Creme Anglaise is one of the most versatile sauces in the pastry kitchen. It is wonderful served with chocolate cake, the sauce for floating island and the base for lots of ice creams. It is also a creamy contrast to fruit desserts such as the tropical fruit vacherin, where I added mango puree to add a bright flavor to the sauce.
I always start with a simple vanilla flavored sauce and then add flavors to it to suit my dessert.
Creme Anglaise (vanilla sauce) and Ice Cream Base:
3 cups half and half
vanilla bean, split and the seeds scraped out to be put in the 1/2 and 1/2.
3/4 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks
Be sure to have a bowl with a strainer ready for when your creme anglaise/Ice Cream Base is ready!
Put the egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk gently, set aside.
In a medium sized sauce pan bring 1/2 and 1/2, vanilla bean and sugar to a gentle simmer. Turn the heat down to low.
Whisk the hot cream into the egg yolks a little bit at a time until the yolks feel warm to the touch. You will only need to add about a cup of the hot cream, a 1/4 cup at a time.
Once the yolks are warm (I usually just feel the bottom of the bowl to see if it is warm to the touch) add them back to the pot of hot milk. Using a rubber spatula stir the mixture until the custard starts to set up just slightly, about 2 minutes)
When the custard stays put when you wipe your finger across the spatula it is done.
Immediately pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer to remove any curdled eggs (you will always have a bit of this) and the vanilla bean.
Cover the custard with plastic wrap and immediately put in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled, about an hour.