It’s the season for barbecues, picnics, cookouts, and outdoor get-togethers – and I have the perfect dessert to impress your guests! This one is particularly patriotic, with gorgeous mixed berries (I used blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries), whipped cream, and a vanilla crème anglaise. You can make it ahead of time, so when it comes time to serve, you just assemble and sit back as your friends ooh and ahh over the sweet treat.
The star of this dessert is the crème anglaise – a sweet, custard-like sauce that gets spooned over the mixed berries. It sounds fancy and intimidating, but if you follow the steps carefully, you’ll have a beautiful, decadent sauce as good as any French pastry chef could make. The two keys to this sauce are your patience and a strong forearm for whisking.
The first step is to separate 12 egg yolks from the whites. We’ll only be using the yolks here, so save the whites for another recipe (a meringue or angel food cake would be tasty!). After putting the 12 egg yolks in a bowl, pour one quart of heavy whipping cream into a saucepan. I know this sounds like a lot of fat-laden ingredients, but I can assure you that it’s worth it when you have one taste of the decadent sauce that results from it! The mixed berries balance it all out – or so I like to think!
I split two vanilla beans down the middle and dropped them into the cream, then I scalded the cream. Scalding means to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the cream starts to bubble along the edges. You’ll notice some of the insides of the vanilla bean start to release into the liquid—this is perfect! To get the rest of the vanilla bean seeds, I ran the back of a paring knife along the cut sides to release the tiny flecks inside the bean, which I added to the cream. There’s nothing quite like fresh vanilla beans—I think they add such a nice flavor that you can’t get from extract, but if you can’t find them, of course, feel free to use a high-quality vanilla extract made from real vanilla beans or a vanilla bean paste instead.
Next, I tempered the eggs, which means I brought them to a warmer temperature. If eggs come in contact with a hot ingredient too quickly, they’ll scramble, so I added a quarter cup of the cream to the egg yolks while whisking to make them a little warmer. Then, I whisked the warmed egg yolks into the heavy cream, followed by 1 cup of sugar. Now onto the fun part: lots and lots of stirring.
Bring your favorite whisk and your patience, because this next step takes a little time. My advice is to keep the heat low and keep stirring. You’re looking for an alfredo sauce-like texture here. It should be somewhat thick and will coat the back of a spoon when it’s ready. Watch carefully, because it can go from liquid to overcooked in just moments! As soon as it looked done, I remove the pan from the heat and placed it on my Franke roller mat – an awesome trivet for hot pans, among other things! – and whisked vigorously to make sure they weren’t any lumps. If you want to be extra-sure that there aren’t any lumps, you can run the mixture through a chinois or fine mesh sieve after it cooks.
Then I transferred the mixture to a bowl and stuck it in the refrigerator (or the freezer if you’re in a rush!) to cool.
Meanwhile, give the berries a quick rinse in the sink and let them sit to dry on the roller mat while the crème anglaise cools. The Franke roller mat is incredibly versatile – I use it every day! Sometimes as a dish dryer, or a colander, or a hot pad to help protect counter tops. The side spray on my Franke farmhouse faucet with hose extender is especially beneficial when it comes to washing produce over the roller mat.
Finally, I whipped more heavy cream and a spoonful of sugar into the bowl of a standing mixer until it reached stiff peask, and then I set it in the fridge until it was time serve. I’d recommend grabbing your prettiest wine glasses or parfait glasses and letting your guests layer their dessert as they please. I’m personally privy to a little more crème anglaise rather than a little less, but to each their own! As for the sparklers – totally optional but highly encouraged! Hope you have a fantastic 4th of July!
Mixed Berries with Vanilla Crème Anglaise and Whipped Cream
- 1 lb fresh strawberries quartered
- 1 pint blueberries
- 6 oz raspberries
- 6 oz blackberries
- 12 egg yolks
- 5 cups heavy whipping cream divided
- 2 vanilla beans
- 1¼ cup sugar divided
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks and place the yolks in a large bowl. Reserve egg whites for another use. Split the vanilla beans lengthwise down the middle. In a heavy saucepan, add 4 cups of heavy cream and the vanilla beans. Heat the cream over low heat until bubbles begin to form on the edges. Remove from the heat. Remove the vanilla beans from the cream. Using the back of a paring knife, scrape the inside of the vanilla beans to remove the insides. Add the insides of the vanilla beans back to the heavy cream.
While whisking constantly, pour ¼ cup of the heavy cream into the egg yolks to bring the yolks up in temperature. Add the egg yolks to the heavy cream and whisk quickly to combine. Whisk in 1 cup of sugar.
Place the heavy cream and egg mixture on a burner over low heat. Low heat is essential here! Whisk constantly until the sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, about 8–12 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer through a fine mesh sieve or chinois, if desired. Refrigerate for 2–3 hours or until cool.
Beat the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream with ¼ cup sugar and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract to stiff peaks. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Rinse the berries and allow to dry. When ready to serve, layer the berries with crème anglaise and top with whipped cream. Serve immediately.