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Classic Crème Anglaise

The single most nerve-racking thing about making this simple, elegant custard sauce is that it can overcook and curdle. Grace Parisi prevents this by preparing a cold-water bath and setting it near the stove before she even cracks an egg.

slideshow Beautiful Desserts

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: makes about 2 1/4 cups

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  • 2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature


  1. Set a large fine strainer over a medium bowl and set the bowl in a shallow pan of cold water.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the half-and-half and vanilla bean and cook over moderately low heat just until small bubbles appear around the rim, about 5 minutes.
  3. In another medium bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks just until combined. Whisk in half of the hot half-and-half in a thin stream. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately strain the sauce into the bowl in the cold water bath to stop the cooking. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the sauce. Serve right away or refrigerate until chilled.
Contributed By Published March 2005

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