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Custard Sauce (Crème Anglaise)


About 2¼ cups


About 15 minutes to make and at least 4 hours to chill


It is called crème anglaise for a reason: the English have a particular fondness for this sweet “mother sauce,” a stovetop-cooked vanilla-scented custard served chilled and flowing into the nursery, the sick room, or off the dessert cart. We cannot think of a single dessert on our website that would object to its company. Were you inclined, you could even dump this sauce without further ado into an ice cream machine and churn it.

Cooking Remarks

We won’t insist that you cool this sauce promptly in an ice bath. But to be safe, you may want to. Fill a sink or basin with at least 3 quarts of ice cubes and cold water. Place the bowl of custard in the ice and stir to cool. Mind the faucet drips!

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need a digital kitchen scale, a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, two medium bowls, a whisk, a fine-mesh sieve, a ladle, a silicone spatula, and an instant-read thermometer.

    • 16
      ounces (2 cups) half-and-half
    • 1
      vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and seeds scraped, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 6
      large egg yolks (3.75 ounces)
    • 2.2
      ounces (⅓ cup) sugar

    Pour the half-and-half into a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the vanilla bean halves and seeds (if using) and the salt, then bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.


    In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Add the sugar and whisk until it begins to dissolve. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a second medium bowl. When the half-and-half is just shy of a simmer, pull the saucepan off the burner and, while whisking lightly, ladle one-quarter of the hot half-and-half into the yolk mixture. Whisk in the remaining half-and-half one ladle at a time.Pour everything back into the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a silicone spatula, and return the saucepan to medium heat. Cook the mixture, stirring with the spatula, until the custard thickens and the temperature reaches 175 to 180 degrees, about 45 seconds. Do not let the temperature go over 180 degrees! Pour the custard immediately through the fine-mesh sieve into the bowl. Add the vanilla extract (if using). Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.