Crème Anglaise

Reader suggestions are exciting for a couple of reasons. Primarily, they absolve me of the annoying part of the process (staring blankly at my overflowing condiment bucket with hopes of inspiration).  Second, they let me know that people are taking interest and engaging the project… and that’s pretty awesome. Two suggestions came in the other day via Facebook: alfredo sauce and custard. Figuring out how to do an alfredo sauce that didn’t suck was giving me a headache, so I took a break and worked on custard. Several explosions and a small kitchen fire later, a fragrant crème anglaise (custard sauce) emerged. By fragrant I mean pungent, by pungent I mean it smelled like a wet dog covered in sugar.

The traditional recipe calls for vanilla extract or any number of other aromatics, which I frugally replaced with a shot of flavored creamer. While it was pretty ace in the taste department, I’m not confident it was supposed to smell like that. Curiosity got the best of me and I Googled for hours in an attempt to figure out where the experiment went awry. There was no way this stanky sludge could be right .

The bits I read  hinted that the smell was coming from the overcooked eggs, which sounds pretty reasonable considering my approach. Crème anglaise is one of those fussy recipes that goes straight to hell if the temperature is even slightly off; my microwave technique was probably one of the dimmer shortcuts I’ve taken in the kitchen. Fortunately a botched (lumpy or curdled) batch can be saved by running it through a blender for about 30 seconds to break up the egg clumps (mmmm egg clumps). Word on the street (internet) is that you can also add a pinch of flour to help keep it from clumping  in the first place.

Crème Anglaise is tasty on it’s own or poured over desserts. It also happens to be the base for other recipes like egg nog and ice cream, which I may or may not get to someday.

Anyone who knows how to make custard the “right” way should stop reading now, since the rest of this is going to be a merciless butchery of the culinary craft.

Custard/Crème Anglaise (one serving)

1 egg

18 tubs (1 cup) half&half

15 packets(1/3 cup) sugar

1 tub flavored creamer (I’ve tried amaretto, hazelnut, chocolate, and pumpkin pie. All were great.)

Use a large bowl to accommodate the frothing/puffing/whatever of the mixture, or you’ll have a hot, stinky puddle on the bottom of your microwave within seconds.

  • Combine egg and sugar, then add half&half and flavored creamer
  • Stir with a wire wisk until well-blended and sugar has completely dissolved
  • Microwave on regular power for 30 seconds, then stir with the wisk to break up clumps
  • Repeat the 30-second-nuke-and-stir process until it gets puffy a couple of times
  • Remove from microwave and  wisk away any remaining lumps
  • It’s still cooking at this point, so stir every few minutes while it cools or put it in the fridge

I don’t have the dishware to make this yellow goo look good, so here’s another stock photo. You’re welcome.

When done, it should have the consistency of  melted ice cream.

An easy variation is crème patissiere (pastry cream) which is used for tarts, cakes, eclairs, and all sorts of other stuff you can make once I perfect the lazy-grirl version.