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.
Chef Notes:• 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 1 tablespoon of a high-quality vanilla extract made from real vanilla beans or 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste instead.• Watch carefully while whisking the mixture over low heat to thicken, 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°.