Crème anglaise or vanilla custard, is naturally gluten free sweet sauce, essentially made from 4 ingredients: egg yolks, sugar, milk and vanilla.
Classic proportions for standard crème anglaise recipe include 5 egg yolks for 500 ml of milk, 60 g of sugar and 1 split vanilla bean (Anne Willan, LaVarenne Pratique, 1989). There are many recipes for this sauce, with variations of sugar content, yolk ratio to milk, cream instead of milk, and some extras to include different flavours. Sometimes corn flour is used to make the sauce thicker, reduce number of yolks used, and avoid the custard to curdle. The recipe I offer, is for a delicate crème based on milk, using the contents of the whole vanilla bean to have distinct vanilla flavour. I do not use corn or any other starch, but I have found, that using 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk, gives the same result in taste and texture as 5 yolks. It is a practical way to avoid excess of egg whites as a by-product.
- 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk
- 60 g sugar, 1/4 of a cup
- 500 ml of milk (I use organic full cream milk)
- vanilla bean, split or few drops of vanilla extract, or 1 coffee spoon of vanilla paste
- With a tip of a knife make a cut in vanilla bean, open it up and take the seeds out
- heat milk (but do not to boil) with vanilla seeds, leave empty vanilla bean in milk to infuse, while you mix eggs with sugar
- whisk 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk with sugar until pale in a bowl, then stir hot milk and whisk them together, take vanilla bean out (a bowl have to be suitable to use in water bath/double boiler)
- put the bowl over the pot of simmering water and slowly heat the sauce constantly stirring with wooden spoon. The sauce cooks into creamy and not frothy consistency. Do not overcook the sauce as it will curdle.
- cool the sauce fast or cover the top with gladwrap to protect from developing the skin
The sauce has a creamy, silky texture. It is not as thick as typical custard. It has delicate vanilla flavour without excessive sweetness. Crème anglaise can be served warm or cold. I prefer to use it with fruits, lightly roasted with Demerara sugar, and not with cakes. Cakes, with their own distinct intense flavours, can overtake and overshadow the delicate taste of crème anglaise.
It’s a perfect light desert to finish special occasion dinners with many dishes served. It also makes enjoyable guilt free sweet treat with coffee. My favourite crème anglaise desert is fruit and berries salad, topped with shavings of dark bitter chocolate to enhance other flavours and textures.
1 tea spoon of gluten free corn flour (starch) can be used, incorporated into egg and sugar mixture before adding milk, to make sauce thicker and preparation easier. With addition of corn flour, the mixture can be cooked with constant stirring in slowly heated pan on direct heat. Without corn flour the sauce needs your full attention and patience, though I never had the sauce curdled.