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Essentially a simple custard made of sugar, milk, egg yolks and a touch of vanilla, crème a l’Anglaise – English cream; or, what Escoffier called custard cream — is a basic culinary technique. You’ve likely enjoyed its supple richness hundreds of times: it is the creamy base for ice cream.
A highly versatile foundational sauce for the kitchen, crème Anglaise can be served with innumerable desserts. When you add chocolate and whipped cream, it becomes chocolate mousse; with butter added, it is crème au beurre. Devour any bavarois or charlotte at a traditional bake shop here in the city and you’re enjoying crème Anglaise.
Making it at home isn’t too hard. There are basically two steps: heat up some whole milk gently on the stove top; in a separate bowl, whisk together a few egg yolks and sugar. Carefully combine the two without scrambling the eggs and stir until it coats the back of a spoon. There are a gazillion recipes online to follow.
With fresh fruit season coming up this spring and early summer, now is the time to practice your Anglaise (the photo herein is ice cream on home-made peach cobbler). Warm or chilled, the custardy sauce is refreshing for all of its rich creaminess, and it can be flavoured with virtually anything that interests you, whether that is orange, Bourbon, cardamom for a slight savoury inflection, or keep it entirely simple with the classic vanilla from the pod.
Crème Anglaise as a base for, or garnishing, a dessert is treat at any time, but I especially look forward to drizzling some on the season’s fresh fruit.
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