Vanilla Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Vanilla Sauce, also called “Crème Anglaise” or “English Cream,” is a luscious vanilla custard sauce used to accompany cakes, tarts, puddings, pastries, and fruit, and can be served warm or cold.

Crème Anglaise uses simple ingredients of egg yolks, sugar, milk, and is flavored with vanilla bean or pure vanilla extract. Traditional Crème Anglaise is made with milk only, but heavy cream is often used along with the milk to create a thicker and richer sauce.

The traditional method for judging the doneness of Crème Anglaise is to dip a wooden spoon into the hot crème. Then use your finger to make a line along the back of the spoon; the crème should hold its shape and not run back into the track you just made. The problem with this method is that it’s hard to judge if the crème holds its shape and to conduct this test while the crème is still cooking. You can measure the doneness more accurately with an instant-read thermometer; the cream should reach at least 170 degrees F, but no more than 180 degrees F.
Recipe type: Dessert Sauce
Vanilla Sauce:
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
  • ½ vanilla bean, split and scraped Or, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt
Vanilla Sauce:
  1. In a medium, non-reactive, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, combine the whole milk, whipping cream, vanilla bean, and scraped vanilla bean seeds. (If using vanilla extract in place of the vanilla bean do not add to the milk; instead the vanilla extract will be added after the Vanilla Sauce has been cooked.) Bring the milk mixture to a simmer (do not boil) stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, remove from the heat.
  2. Meanwhile, while the milk mixture is heating, in a medium bowl with a wire whisk, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and salt together.
  3. Temper the eggs: Very slowly, in a thin stream, pour about ½ cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten eggs while quickly whisking the two together with a wire whisk. Return the egg mixture back to the rest of the hot milk, pouring back slowly while quickly whisking the two mixtures together. Return to medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula in a figure eights pattern around the edge of the pan and into the center, making sure to scrape the rubber spatula across the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook while stirring constantly about 2 minutes or until the mixture registers 170 to 175 degrees F. but no more than 180 degrees F. using a candy or instant read thermometer to gauge the temperature. Do not allow mixture to boil or the egg yolks will curdle. Remove from heat. Tip: A heat-resistant rubber spatula is best for stirring because it can scrape the entire bottom of the pot to help prevent the egg from clumping together and coagulating.
  4. Finishing the Vanilla Sauce: Remove and discard the vanilla bean if using. Or, if using vanilla extract, add it now and stir until completely blended. Let cool to room temperature, stirring frequently while cooling. Or, Pour the Vanilla Sauce into a medium-sized bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface while the sauce is cooling to prevent a skin from forming. The Vanilla Sauce will thicken as it cools.
  5. The Vanilla Sauce can be used immediately or cooled to room temperature and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Source: Peterson, James, Baking, Ten Speed Press, New York, 2009; Greenspan, Dorie, Baking, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 2006; Yard, Sherry, The Secrets of Baking, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 2003
Recipe Notes
Equipment: Medium Heavy Pan Method: Stovetop Yield: 2½ Cups Storage: Cover and Refrigerate

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