Tahitian Crème Anglaise

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.–Ming Tsai and Arthur Boehm

Tahitian Crème Anglaise

Egg cup filled with Tahitian cream custard, two vanilla beans, on a pile of sugar
Ming Tsai and Arthur Boehm

Prep 25 mins
Cook 4 hrs 10 mins
Total 4 hrs 35 mins
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  • 2 vanilla beans preferably Tahitian
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1 quart milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 16 extra-large egg yolks


  • 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.
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Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, freeze the Tahitian Crème Anglaise in an ice-cream maker. Continue freezing the ice cream in the freezer, preferably overnight or at least 4 hours, and serve. Fold in 2 cups of bittersweet chocolate chips for Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.

Originally published April 26, 2003


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