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Ming says: Crème anglaise, a rich custard sauce that can be served hot or cold, is one of the world's great culinary creations. My version is even better, if I say so myself, because it's flavored with Tahitian vanilla beans, noted for their intense vanilla flavor, as well as with heavy cream. This isn't a diet specialty, of course, but one that's welcome as an occasional treat. It's also the basis for a number of super desserts, including a particularly fabulous vanilla ice cream.
This is the perfect dessert sauce. Pour it over fresh berries, chocolate cake, bread puddings, and the like.
For an instant sabayon-type dessert, fold the crème anglaise into whipped cream.... Read more.
With a paring knife, split the vanilla beans.
Using a teaspoon, scrape their insides into a medium saucepan, and add the pods.
In the same pan combine the cream, milk, and 1 cup of the sugar and cook over low heat, stirring, just until the mixture becomes hot, 10 to 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat but leave the saucepan on the stove.
In a medium bowl, combine the yolks and the remaining cup of sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is pale yellow.
Remove 2 cups of the cream mixture from the saucepan and, whisking constantly, add it gradually to the yolk mixture.
Stir the lightened yolk mixture back into the saucepan and cook the custard over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sauce thickens sufficiently to coat the spoon, 5 to 8 minutes.
Strain the sauce and transfer it to a shallow pan.
To avoid a skin forming on the cream, cover it with plastic wrap so the wrap touches its surface.
Keep the edges of the wrap raised so steam can escape.
Cool in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.
Use or store.
Lasts 1 week, refrigerated.
You'll have leftover egg whites when you make the sauce. Refrigerate and use them within 2 days, or freeze and defrost to use in soufflés, meringues, or low-cholesterol, whites-only omelets.
Though Tahitian vanilla beans, the darkest of all varieties, are the beans of choice for this recipe, you can use other kinds, such as Madagascan, with very good results.
Tahitian vanilla beans are relatively expensive, but can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated. (I recommend storing the beans in sugar; this helps to preserve them, and you have a bonus of fragrant vanilla sugar for baking.)
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