Have a fine medium-sized
strainer and bowl ready near the stove.
stainless steel bowl stir together, using a wooden spoon, the sugar and yolks until well
blended. (Do not let this mixture sit too long or a film
will develop on the yolks.)
In a small saucepan heat
the cream and vanilla bean (if using) just to the boiling point. Remove
from heat and whisk a few tablespoons of
the cream into the yolk mixture. Then, gradually add the remaining cream, whisking constantly.
Pour this mixture into a
medium sized saucepan and, over medium heat, gently heat the mixture to just below the boiling
point (170 - 175 degrees F) (77 - 80 degrees C). You will notice that steam will begin to appear and
the mixture will be slightly thicker than heavy cream. Do not boil or the eggs
will curdle. Check to see if it is the right consistency by holding a wooden spoon sideways that is covered with
the custard and run your finger along the back of the spoon. If the streak
remains without the cream running down through the streak, it is ready.
Immediately remove from
the heat and pour through the strainer, scraping up any thickened cream that
settles on the bottom of the pan. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds
into the sauce. Stir until seeds separate. For maximum flavor, return the pod
to the sauce until serving time.
(If you are using pure
vanilla extract, instead of the vanilla bean, add it to the cream now.)
creme anglaise can
be refrigerated covered with plastic wrap for a couple of days.
Note: If sauce was
overheated and curdling occurs, pour instantly into a blender and process until
smooth before straining. If necessary, add a little heavy cream to the mixture
about 2 cups (480 ml)