Classic Crème Anglaise given a subtly spiced twist by replacing vanilla with infused Chai tea.
I have this thing with custard these days. Could it be I’m turning just a little more French? The French custard ‘equivalent’ is nothing like the thicker British version so, when I first arrived in Paris, I found myself avoiding it due to its enormous difference – until I started playing with it like this spiced Chai Tea Creme Anglaise.
Spoon-clinging thick vanilla custard reminds me of growing up in Scotland with classic comforting puddings such as apple crumbles – and especially, my Banana Surprise.
To my initial surprise, it totally did not rock my new French family’s gastronomic world. It was a chopped banana thrown in a bowl, hidden under a giant gloop of an instant packet mix of yellow-coloured, vanilla-flavoured custard. Hence why I hid myself away in the custard cupboard for a while until I slowly learned to cook from scratch using good ingredients. In a nutshell, more like the French. But it didn’t mean it was all fancy and difficult to make.
Homemade Custard is Best!
Good quality, homemade custard is nothing in comparison to packet mixes. I guess that’s a given, since it’s made with a whole vanilla pod (bean) with its seeds scraped out to show the evidence: flecks of pure yet simple exotic luxury.
However, being in France for so long now has made a change to my custard ideas. For thick, hot custard fans I’m not going to upset you: British-style custard goes perfectly with British-style hot puddings. For the thinner, cooler French crème anglaise it goes perfectly with French-style chocolate desserts – especially the classic chocolate fondant cake.
Infuse Custard or Milky Puddings with Chai Tea!
Vanilla is never plain and simple but this is why I also love cooking from scratch: you can play with flavours and a crème anglaise is perfect to infuse the likes of tea in the milk to give a personalised touch with its accompanying desserts. In this case, a spiced Chai tea (or other spiced tea or infusion) is perfect with our favourite Chocolate Ginger Fondant Cake or individual dark chocolate lava cakes.
As you can see from the above illustration, I measured out 50g sugar before mixing with the eggs. The recipe below calls for only 40g, as while developing this, it didn’t need quite as much sugar. The secret I’ve learned from many cool French pastry chefs? Don’t over sugar recipes – that way, you get all the flavour sensations and, in this case, the Chai Tea flavour shines through.
Crème Anglaise Recipe with Milk – No Cream
Just like my recipe for Crème Caramel, this Crème Anglaise is made without cream – just whole (full-fat) milk and egg yolks.
Instead of using the classic vanilla, infuse Chai tea to give a subtle spicy flavour to it. However, any kind of perfumed tea will go so well with this. Try with Earl Grey teabags – or an infusion of lemon verbena (French verveine) for a subtle lemon flavour.
Chai Tea Crème Anglaise
Chai Tea Creme Anglaise
- 300 g (10.5oz) whole milk full fat
- 1 teabag sachet Chai tea (or any other spiced infusion or tea)
- 3 organic egg yolks
- 40 g (1.5oz) sugar
- Heat the milk and teabag gently in a saucepan until the milk is just about at boiling point. Remove the milk from the heat and cover, leaving the tea to infuse in the milk for 10 minutes then discard the teabag.
- Meanwhile, whisk the yolks and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy. Pour over the warm milk, whisking continuously then transfer to the saucepan back on a medium heat.
- Continue to whisk or stir the sauce with a wooden spoon until it thickens. The sauce is ready when your finger can run a line down the back of the spoon and it leaves a clean trace.
- Immediately remove from the heat, strain into a bowl then transfer to serving jugs and leave to cool in the fridge until ready to serve.
70 calories; 2g protein; 7g fat; 4g carbohydrates Tea Infusions in the Milk: although this uses Chai tea to accompany Chocolate Ginger Fondant Cake, other teas can be used such as Earl Grey. As the milk has to be heated first, infuse your favourite tea or herbal infusion to fragrance the milk and personalise this to suit your taste. Crème Anglaise Storage: The sauce can be stored in the fridge, sealed in a container for up to 5 days. Serve chilled or if at room temperature, remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.