Basic Crème Anglaise and Variations
This fundamental recipe has a multitude of uses in cooking. It is the basis for many baked custard desserts such as Crème Brûlée, Crème Caramel and Rice Custard but is also used as fillings in pies and tarts such as custard tarts. It’s not as difficult to make as you might think and I make use of a blender to completely emulsify the ingredients before they’re baked. You can also cook this mixture on the stove in a saucepan as you would custard. It makes very thick and delicious custard to have with fresh fruit or just as is. Crème anglaise mixtures should be baked in a bain marie (water bath) to prevent curding. The water should come up half way up the side of the submersed dish.
- Preheat the oven.
- Place the cream or milk and vanilla extract/vanilla bean in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then turn off the heat to allow the milk to infuse with the vanilla for 5–15 minutes.
- Remove vanilla bean (if using) and allow to cool almost completely (approximately 10–15 minutes).
- In a blender blend the egg yolks and sugar until well combined.
- When cooled pour the cream mixture into the egg mixture in the blender and continue to blend until very well combined.
- Strain through a Tammy cloth or fine cotton or muslin cloth and use as required.
- Crème Brûlée – pour the mixture into individual ramekins then place the ramekins into a bain marie and bake for 60–75 minutes or until firmly set and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool at room temperature, then refrigerate until cold. Before serving, sprinkle 1 Tbsp of caster sugar on the top of each ramekin and place under a very hot grill till the sugar begins to caramelise and form toffee, or use a blowtorch to heat the sugar until it caramelises.
- Liqueur Crème Brulee - Substitute ¼ cup of the cream for ¼ cup of Frangelico, Tia Maria, Kahlua or your favourite liqueur.
- Citrus Crème Brulee - Add 1 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice and 1 tsp lemon or lime zest to egg mixture.
- Coconut & Lime Crème Brulee - Add 4 large pieces of lime rind, ½ cup shredded coconut and a couple of drops of coconut extract to the cream and gently heat and strain before adding to the egg mixture.
- Ginger & Lemon Grass Crème Brulee - Add 3-4 pieces of ginger and chopped lemongrass stalk to the cream and gently heat then strain before adding to the yolk mixture.
- Chocolate Crème Brulee - Add 30g of chocolate to the cream and gently heat to melt through, plus a few drops of chocolate extract before adding to the yolk mixture.
- Crème Caramel – you’ll need ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water extra. Place the extra sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves, then stop stirring, reduce the heat so the caramel is bubbling gently and allow to cook till it begins to change colour. Remove from the heat and allow it to change colour to a deep golden then pour equal amounts into the base of 125ml dariole moulds, then pour the anglaise on top the caramel, filling them to the top. Place the moulds in a bain marie, cover the baking dish with aluminium foil to prevent the tops from browning and bake for 60–75 minutes or until firmly set and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool at room temperature. Refrigerate till cold. To unmould the custards, slide a knife around the edge of the inside of the mould to slightly loosen it, then place a flat plate on top of the mould. Upend the plate so that the mould is now sitting on top of it. The contents should slip onto the plate and the caramel will pour over the custard.
- Baked Rice Custard – combine the anglaise with 1 cup cooked white rice, some ground cinnamon and any of the following flavourings, then pour into a large ramekin or individual ramekins and bake in a bain marie for 45–50 minutes. Flavourings – sliced banana, fresh or frozen berries, mix of spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg).
- Bread and Butter Pudding – in a ramekin layer enough quartered slices of crustless white bread, brioche, croissant, fruit loaf or challah that’s been buttered and spread with jam, to almost fill the ramekin. Sprinkle over some raisins or sultanas between each layer then pour over the anglaise. Bake in a bain marie for 30 minutes.
- Custard Tart – in a cold blind baked 22cm single pie crust made with short crust pastry, pour the anglaise and bake for 30–40 minutes until the custard is set. Dust with nutmeg to serve.
- Portuguese Custard Tarts – 2 sheets of frozen puff pastry (thawed) cut into rounds with an 8cm cookie cutter and the rounds placed inside the holes of a 12 hole mini pie tin. Pour the crème anglaise mixture into each pastry tart and bake at 205°C set on classic convection for 20 minutes. Pastry does not need to be blind baked.