Strawberries with Creme Anglais
2 cups (480 ml) light cream or half and half (12-18% butterfat)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (can be found specialty food stores) or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated white sugar
5 large egg yolks
Have a fine, medium-sized strainer and bowl ready near the stove.
In a stainless steel bowl stir together, using a wooden spoon, the sugar and yolks until well blended. (Do not let this mixture sit too long or a film will develop on the yolks.)
In a small saucepan heat the cream and vanilla bean (if using) just to the boiling point. Remove from heat and whisk a few tablespoons of the cream into the yolk mixture. Then, gradually add the remaining cream, whisking constantly.
Pour this mixture into a medium sized saucepan and, over medium heat, gently heat the mixture to just below the boiling point (170 - 175 degrees F) (77 - 80 degrees C). You will notice that steam will begin to appear and the mixture will be slightly thicker than heavy cream. Do not boil or the eggs will curdle. Check to see if it is the right consistency by holding a wooden spoon sideways that is covered with the custard and run your finger along the back of the spoon. If the streak remains without the cream running down through the streak, it is ready.
Immediately remove from the heat and pour through the strainer, scraping up any thickened cream that settles on the bottom of the pan. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the sauce. Stir until seeds separate. For maximum flavor, return the pod to the sauce until serving time. (If you are using pure vanilla extract, instead of the vanilla bean, add it to the cream now.)
The creme anglaise can be refrigerated covered with plastic wrap for a couple of days.
Note: If sauce was overheated and curdling occurs, pour instantly into a blender and process until smooth before straining. If necessary, add a little heavy cream to the mixture before blending.
Makes about 2 cups (480 ml). Preparation time 20 minutes.