This is also known as "English Custard" and "Custard Sauce."
2 cups cream or milk
1/2 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
If using a vanilla bean, split it lengthwise, then scrape with the back edge
of a knife and add to the cream — seeds, pod and all. If you are using vanilla
extract, add it after cooking.
In a heavy saucepan, barely boil the cream and the prepared vanilla bean.
Set a large fine mesh strainer over a bowl set in a larger bowl of ice.
top of a double boiler, whisk the yolks and sugar by hand or with a portable electric
mixer until thick and smooth, about 30 seconds.
Slowly whisk in the hot cream and
vanilla bean. Cook in the double boiler set over simmering water, stirring gently
and constantly all around the bottom and corners with a wooden spatula. Eventually
the foam will subside. The Creme Anglaise is done when it coats a wooden spoon without
bare spots, 12 to 15 minutes.
Immediately pour through the strainer. If you are using vanilla extract, add it now.
To keep Creme Anglaise warm for serving, place it in a bowl set in a larger pot
of hot water.
To store, cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the Creme
Anglaise, and refrigerate.
For a flavor variation, add 1 teaspoon cinnamon to vanilla-flavored cream, or
replace vanilla extract with 2 teaspoons brandy, rum, amaretto, Kahlua or Grand