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Published July 17, 2019. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Crème Anglaise is a chilled vanilla bean custard that is poured over pies, cakes, fresh berries, and decadent desserts for an unbelievably delicious rich flavor. While you’re in the berry mood, learn how else to use them up in my Berry Crisp Recipe with No-Churn Ice Cream and my Dutch Baby Pancake Recipe.
The star of this dessert is the sauce – 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.
What Is Crème Anglaise
Crème anglaise is French for “English Cream.” It is 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 is essentially the exact same custard used in my Crème Brulee Recipe with slightly different procedures.
Crème anglaise which is a custard has been used in desserts and recipes dating back to the middle ages.
How to Make Crème Anglaise
1. Split two vanilla beans down the middle and add them to a medium-size saucepot with heavy whipping cream.
2. Scald the cream over low heat.
3. Next, separate 12 egg yolks from the whites.
4. After putting the 12 egg yolks in a bowl and whisk it together with 1 cup of sugar. Set aside.
5. Once the milk has scaled temper the eggs by whisking in about 1 cup of the milk.
6. Whisk in the remaining cream.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Strain the crème anglaise through a fine-mesh strainer and immediately cool in the refrigerator until cold, about 90 minutes.
10. Pour some of the crème anglaise over fresh berries and serve with optional whipped cream and mint.
Crème Anglaise Ice Cream
Once you’re done cooking and straining the crème anglaise you can transfer it to a metal loaf pan and freeze it to make crème anglaise ice cream. This ice cream is a bit heavy given all the heavy whipping cream and egg yolks used but the flavor and the richness will be incredible.
Can I Make It With Half and Half
You can definitely sub out the heavy whipping cream used in this recipe for half and half, but it will not be as rich in texture or flavor because of half the amount of fat that is in the cream. It is lighter on the calorie side which may be of help.
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 is whisked over low temperature until thick and then chilled to use as a sauce.
What Does It Go Well With
It goes fantastic with any chocolate dessert, fresh berries, with pies or cakes as a garnish sauce accompaniment. Speaking of berries, if you’re a fan then my blackberry cobbler is also a must make.
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.
Storing and Freezing: 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.
chef notes + tips
- Scalding means to cook 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 be using 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.
- 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.
- Watch carefully while whisking it over the burner, because the eggs can go from liquid to overcooked in just moments!
- If you like using thermometers the finished temperature of the crème Anglaise should be between 182° and 185°.
More Amazing Dessert Recipes
- Key Lime Pie recipe
- Chocolate Mousse
- Homemade Churros
- Classic Cheesecake Recipe
- Cherry Clafoutis
Crème Anglaise Recipe and Fresh Berries
- 2 vanilla beans
- 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 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.
- Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks and place the yolks in a large bowl. Reserve egg whites for another use.
- Whisk the sugar with the egg yolks until combined
- While whisking constantly, pour ¼ cup of the 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 notes. Remove from the heat and transfer through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois, if desired. 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.