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Published August 22, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This delicious Crème Anglaise is a chilled vanilla bean custard that is poured over pies, cakes, fresh berries & desserts for an amazingly rich flavor. You will not believe how delicious this is and how simple it is to prepare.
Crème anglaise is French for “English Cream.” It’s a pouring custard that is usually served as an accompaniment to desserts or can be the main sauce by serving it with fresh berries, as I did in this recipe. It can be served cold or hot when poured over cakes or pies.
It is essentially the exact same custard used in my Crème Brulee Recipe with slightly different procedures. Crème anglaise has been used in desserts and recipes dating back to the Middle Ages.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Cream – You will need to use heavy cream in this recipe. However, you can use half and half, but it will not be as rich in texture and flavor, although it will be lighter in calories.
- Sugar – Granulated sugar is what you use in this Crème Anglaise Recipe.
- Eggs – You will need 12 large egg yolks. It does not matter if they are chilled or at room temperature.
- Vanilla – Fresh vanilla seeds (pods) will give this sauce incredible flavors.
- Fruit – I personally like this with fresh berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
How to Make Crème Anglaise from Scratch
- Split two vanilla beans down the middle and add them to a medium-sized saucepot with heavy whipping cream.
- Scald the cream over low heat.
- Next, separate 12 egg yolks from the whites.
- After putting the 12 egg yolks in a bowl and whisk it together with 1 cup of sugar. Set aside.
- Once the milk has scaled, temper the eggs by whisking in about 1 cup of the milk.
- Whisk in the remaining cream.
- To get the rest of the vanilla bean seeds, run the back of a paring knife along the cut sides to release the tiny flecks inside the bean, then add to the cream-egg mixture.
- 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.
- Strain the crème anglaise through a fine-mesh strainer and immediately cool in the refrigerator until cold, about 90 minutes.
- Pour some of the crème anglaise over fresh berries and serve with optional whipped cream and mint.
What Is The Difference Between Custard and Crème Anglaise?
Crème anglaise is the base for custard. However, the custard is baked in a souffle dish, crème brulee dish, or a ramekin and then chilled. Crème anglaise is not baked until firm. It’s whisked over low temperature until thick and then chilled to use as a sauce.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: You can make crème anglaise up to 4 days ahead of time before serving it to your guests. See the storage notes below.
How to Store: When storing it be sure to hold in a plastic container wrapped with plastic in the refrigerator and keep it for up to 5 days. It will freeze, making a very rich, delicious ice cream. With that being said, it does not thaw well because it will begin to separate.
How to Reheat: If you’d like to serve this hot, add it to a small saucepot and heat over low heat while continually serving until hot.
Chef Notes + Tips
- Scalding means cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally until the cream starts to bubble along the edges and bottom of the pot. You’ll notice some of the insides of the vanilla bean start to release into the liquid—this is perfect.
- We’ll only use the yolks in this recipe, so save the whites for another recipe (a meringue or angel food cake would be tasty!).
- You temper the eggs slowly so that you don’t scramble the eggs by pouring in the entire pot of scaled milk.
- Vanilla beans 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. Substitute 1 vanilla bean for 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.
- You’re looking for an Alfredo sauce-like texture when whisking the crème anglaise over the burner. It should be somewhat thick and will coat the back of a spoon when it’s ready. This is also known as nappe.
- Observe while whisking it over the burner, because the eggs can go from liquid to overcooked in moments!
- If you like using thermometers, the finished temperature of the crème Anglaise should be between 182° and 185°.
More Dessert Recipes
Crème Anglaise Recipe and Fresh Berries
- 2 vanilla bean pods
- 4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 12 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 lb fresh strawberries quartered
- 1 pint blueberries
- 6 oz raspberries
- 6 oz blackberries
- whipped cream, recipe
- fresh mint
- Split the vanilla bean pods lengthwise down the middle. In a heavy saucepan, add 4 cups of heavy cream and the vanilla bean pods. Heat the cream over low heat until bubbles begin to form on the edges. Remove it 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 vanilla beans back to the heavy cream. Discard the pods.
- Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks and place the yolks in a large bowl. Reserve the egg whites for another recipe.
- Whisk the sugar with the egg yolks until combined.
- While whisking constantly, pour ¼ to 1/2 cup of the hot, heavy cream into the egg yolks to bring the yolks up in temperature. Add the remaining heavy cream and whisk quickly to combine.
- 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, see the notes below. Remove from the heat and transfer through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois. Refrigerate for 90 minutes or until cool.
- Serve by pouring some of the crème anglaise over top of fresh berries and serving with optional heavy whipping cream and mint.