Sunday, August 13, 2006

Creme Anglais (traditional sauce to serve on soufflé)

My 3rdX has been reading the blog. She called to say that when I made soufflé for her there was always creme anglais spooned over it. She said that without the sauce the dish is dimished. Since I owe her a huge karma debt racked up by my being a drunken asshole and faithless husband I will say right now that she is right. So, without further ado, je presente le creme anglais.

In keeping with my last bit of criticism, also valid and welcome, here's what you will need to work with.

5 egg yolks (can be left over from the soufflé or the angel food cake which by the way is a hallmark of a well tempered kitchen)
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (packed)
13 ounces of whole milk (1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons)
1 vanilla bean (cured, not dry)
pinch kosher or sea salt

Take a wet towel and make a ring that the bowl you will be mixing the sauce in will fit snugly on the counter. Whisk the egg yolks, brown sugar and salt together until very creamy and lemon colored. Set it in the towel ring.

Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a very sharp paring knife. With the back of a demitasse spoon or anything small with a blunt end, scrape out the vanilla specks. Put the specks and the bean hull in the milk to scald. Use a heavy bottom pot (I have cast iron sauce pans for just this kind of thing, although stainless steel or heavy aluminum will do I prefer the even heat distribution you get from well seasoned cast iron pots) to scald the milk. This means you have it over a high heat without stirring until a fine topcoat of small bubbles appear. You do not want this to boil. The whole idea of a scald is to bring it right to the edge of a boil and then pull it back. Take this pan off the burner and replace it with a pot big enough for your mixing bowl to fit over with at least two inches of water in it there to come to a boil.

Slowly. Methodically. Ever. So. Slowly. Ladle in some of the hot milk, whisking steadily the whole time. This is called tempering. By bringing the egg yolk mixture up to temperature slowly the yolks will not scramble. If you notice scrambling taking place, throw it out, call the dog or the cat and start over, going. Slowly. And. Patiently. This. Time. Once the milk and the egg yolks are close to the same temperature you can begin to pour the milk straight from the pan, but, remember, Not. To. Rush. This. Step.

When all the milk is whisked into the egg put the bowl over the boiling water on the stove and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook it until the custard begins to coat the back of the spoon and has started to thicken. Do. Not. Let. This. Boil.

Still stirring transfer the mixing bowl to an ice bath (a big ass bowl with ice cubes, water and salt) until it feels cool to the touch. Sieve through a fine mesh strainer into a plastic or glass container that you can cap tightly and refridgerate until ready to use. This will last in the fridge for a week if you don't open the container to air. Once you've opened it, use it all. Which is actually pretty easy because this is a beautiful, golden, silken, voluptous dessert sauce.

Variations:

You can add 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and half a cinnamon stick to the milk before scalding. Or finely grind half a nutmeg and put the other half in the milk.

You can also add 1 1/2 tsp of rum, cognac, or coffee liqueur (The best I have found is Starbucks®, but feel free to add your own personal favorite to the milk as soon as it is scalded.

Another completely decadent use for creme anglais is to dunk a fresh strawberry to the shoulders, immediately roll in brown sugar and bite. Be carefull with this one though, spontaneous orgasms have been documented at the table with the combination of flavor and texture. Unless you're down for an orgy, save it to finish off the romantic dinner for two.

5 Comments:

Blogger konagod said...

Man, how many X's you got? And do they all live in Texas?
:-)

2:59 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

XXXX, respectively living in rhode island, las vegas, california, arizona. . .

3:33 PM  
Blogger Missouri Mule said...

Good lawd, know I'm hunry!


Your future X wife.

6:18 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i find my relationships last much longer and are less emotionally and financially damaging when kept to dinner guest. but, should you be anywhere near arizona mi casa, esta su casa. we could even hit a meeting or two.

9:24 AM  
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