Thursday, January 26, 2017

Crème Anglaise

Many a year ago, when we lived in Yorkshire, I made my first custard sauce. Though I love eating this British classic anywhere, its pleasant taste, cheerful colour, and velvety texture is particularly comforting if the eater is gazing through a rain-drenched window overlooking windswept moors. Adorning many a dessert from fruit crumbles to sponge cake to parfaits and fools to just the simplicity of its flavoursome richness swirled through some plain yogurt or serving as a base for making ice cream, this sauce with its flaxen colour and a whiff of vanilla is versatile. Easy to make, any surplus will last about a week in the fridge and will present no difficulty to being gobbled-up.

Custard sauce topping rhubarb crumble in a pool of coulis (recipe)

makes approximately 1/2 litre

  • Cream, heavy, 295 ml/10 fluid oz
  • Egg yolks, 3
  • Sugar, vanilla, 2 T (add more to taste if a sweeter sauce is desired). A whole vanilla bean could instead be put in the cream to be warmed, in that case use plain sugar. Remove, clean, dry the bean, and store it in a jar of sugar, to make vanilla sugar!

Beating yolks and sugar until thick and lemon-coloured is . . .

. . . something I never tire of doing. Just yolks thickened with sugar in itself is adaptable by lending its deliciousness to eggnog and zabaglione with which The Calm One would take a shower if he only could figure out how to get it to flow through the plumbing.

Whisking takes about five minutes; note how the mixture coats the whisk and bowl

Gently warm up the cream in a saucepan. Take it off the burner and let sit for a few minutes. If using a vanilla bean, remove it now. Stir a few tablespoons into the yolks and sugar. Stir in a few more. Stir in the final amount. Then pour the tempered yolk/sugar mixture in the pan, stirring all the time over low heat until when swiping a coated wooden spoon with a finger, the remaining sauce stays put. It can be strained for an even more silky finish.

Sauce takes about five minutes to get to this stage

Fill a suitable storage tub with the sauce.

Refrigerate for at least an hour to firm it up.

To assemble the rhubarb fool we had for dessert following our holiday dinner this past December, for two ample servings, fold in gently and completely 118 ml/4 fluid oz of custard into 118 ml/4 fluid oz of whipped cream.

Then incompletely fold in 118 ml/4 fluid oz of rhubarb puree. Use more if you want it to be very fruity. Instructions for roasting rhubarb which retains most of its pinkness (of course forced pink rhubarb will be the pinkest) and also provides copious juice for coulis are here.

I took a stick mixer to the roasted rhubarb to make puree

Aim for threads of rhubarb throughout.

Pile into dessert glasses, make a depression in the fool, and fill with rhubarb coulis. Though custard sauce can be made with milk or a fool just with whipped cream, using a cream-based custard to be folded into whipped cream makes it closer to unfrozen ice cream and oh so good.

À la prochaine!

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