Crème Anglaise with Bourbon Sauce - This classic dessert sauce with the addition of the smoky flavor of Kentucky bourbon is easy and versatile. It can go with almost any sweet dish, be churned into ice cream, as well as on it's own with fruit garnish.
We highly suggest pairing this bourbon sauce with our Croissant Bread Pudding, as the sweet vanilla flavor and velvety smooth texture contrast the dried cherries and butterscotch in it.
Crème Anglaise Basics
French sauces with fancy sounding names can seem very intimidating to many folks. Throw in egg yolks as a thickening agent, and the whole project can start to seem downright scary. Allow us to walk you through the basics, and we're sure that you will agree that this doesn't have to be the case!
Let's just look at what crème anglaise sauce really is. "English cream", as it is literally translated from the French, is a custard. Custards are simply egg thickened, cream or milk-based dishes. Puddings, (in all of their forms), crème brulee, and even ice cream are custards. If you make anglaise and freeze it with an ice cream churn, "voila! "you have ice cream.
If you've ever payed close attention to eggs in a pan, I'm sure that you've noticed that there comes a point where the yolk starts to thicken, right before it becomes solid. Getting the egg right to that point and then stopping the cooking by chilling is all that we are doing here. Being prepared and following some simple steps will get you there!
***For some in depth info about creme anglaise, check out the wiki for it right here.
- Egg yolks - These will form the binder for this classic sauce.
- Sugar - White granulated sugar is best.
- Cream - The high fat content of heavy cream, or "whipping cream", is called for here.
- Bourbon - It wouldn't be bourbon sauce without the whiskey, right? While we don't suggest using your best single barrel expression for this, (save that for sipping!), it really can't be the cheapest stuff, either. Look for the median price, and the actual name "bourbon", not just whiskey.
- Vanilla - This recipe calls for whole vanilla beans. This is the best way to get the fullest flavor, but a good quality extract or paste can also be used. See the "Variations" section below.
See recipe card for quantities.
Step One - Prepare the Yolks
Separate the egg yolks into a stainless bowl, reserving the whites for another recipe.
Whisk them together with the sugar until well combined.
Step Two - Steep the Cream and Combine
Put the split and scraped vanilla bean, bourbon, and cream together in a saucepan. Heat until you achieve a low simmer, then turn it off and let it sit for a minute or so to steep.
Pour hot cream mixture into bowl of eggs and sugar, stirring rapidly and constantly to combine.
Step Three - Thicken Bourbon Sauce
Immediately return to saucepan.
Stir constantly with a heat proof rubber spatula while gently heating over low flame. Remove from heat when sauce is thick enough to coat the spatula without running off.
Step Four - Strain and Chill
Pour sauce into a stainless mixing bowl, straining through a fine mesh strainer.
Rapidly cool over an ice bath while stirring gently with the spatula.
We are great fans of the bourbon sauce version that we used here, but crème anglaise is as versatile as it is easy!
- Classic - omitting the liquor from this recipe will yield the classic, vanilla flavored sauce
- Orange - adding Grand Marnier in place of the bourbon, and toss a little orange zest into the cream to steep
- Coffee - substituting Kahlua for the bourbon will give this sauce a lovely coffee bean flavor
When tightly sealed in the refrigerator, this sauce should stay fresh and tasty for up to five days.
Unless you churn this sauce into ice cream, it will separate in the freezer.
Hesitation is your biggest enemy here! If you stop stirring or pouring while working with egg yolks, this is when they will seize up and curdle. Moving rapidly from one step to the next will reward you with great results.
This is my favorite dish to serve with Bourbon Sauce Anglaise:
Crème Anglaise with Bourbon Sauce
- 2 large mixing bowls
- 1 fine mesh strainer
- 1 Cutting Board
- 1 small paring knife if you are using whole vanilla beans, you will need a knife and a cutting board to split the beans.
- 1 4 quart sauce pan
- 1 Rubber Spatula
- 1 liquid measuring cup
- 1 wire whip/whisk
- 1 pint Heavy Cream
- ½ cup Granulated sugar
- 5 large Egg Yolks
- 1 whole Vanilla Bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or ½ teaspoon vanilla paste
- 1 oz Kentucky Bourbon see the notes above regarding the best choice for Bourbon.
- Separate the eggs into a large mixing bowl, using the yolks for this recipe and saving the whites for another time
- Making sure you have everything you need for this recipe ready before you start is very important for your success
- Pour the cream into the sauce pan and add the split vanilla bean or vanilla extract (or vanilla paste) and the bourbon, and place over medium heat
- Add the sugar to the egg yolks and whisk vigorously until smooth. Set the egg mixture aside and place ice into the second large mixing bowl with a cup of water, creating an ice bath, placing it aside for the final straining and cooling steps (having this ice bath ready to go is extremely important)
- When the cream comes to a simmer, let it sit for 2 minutes so you infuse the vanilla flavors
- Pour the heated cream mixture into the egg and sugar mixture, do not hesitate it is important that you work quickly to prevent the mixture from curdling, whisk the mixture together
- Return the mixture to the sauce pan, using the rubber spatula to scrape the bowl. Place the empty bowl on the ice bath with the strainer near by, getting ready to quickly strain the finished sauce into the bowl that is set in the ice bath
- Place the pan over medium to high heat, and stir continuously until the mixture begins to thicken (it will start to roll away from the sides of the pan, and coat the rubber spatula)
- Quickly remove the pan from the heat, and holding the strainer over the bowl that is set on the ice bath pour the thickened mixture through the strainer (this will remove any cooked egg as well as the spent vanilla beans) into the bowl.
- Stir the completed sauce keeping it on the ice bath, until it is completely cool, then pour over your favorite dessert or fresh fruit and enjoy!