Classic Crème Anglaise recipe given a subtly spiced twist by replacing infused vanilla with Chai tea.
Two Kinds of Custard Either Sides of the Channel
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 with a sticky vanilla pod or bean. But it didn't mean it was all fancy and difficult to make.
What is the Difference Between Custard and Crème Anglaise?
In a nutshell, custard is an extra thick vanilla sauce. Conversely, the consistency of Crème Anglaise is much, much thinner. It's also made with vanilla but is runnier.
The French Crème Anglaise is normally served cold or at room temperature and likewise, accompanies chilled or room temperature desserts. For example, instead of a hot apple crumble, serve it with this chilled French apple crumble cake.
Crème Anglaise Ingredients
The classic Crème Anglaise is normally made with a mixture of cream, milk, egg yolks, sugar and a vanilla pod/bean - and often with a little cornstarch or rice flour.
Just like my recipe for Crème Caramel, this Crème Anglaise is made without cream - just whole (full-fat) milk and egg yolks and a little sugar.
Low sugar: as you can see from the above method photo, 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 French pastry chef friends? Don't over sugar recipes - that way, you get all the full flavour of the main ingredients and, in this case, the Chai Tea flavour shines through.
Instead of using the classic vanilla, I infuse Chai tea (either a teabag or a little loose tea) to give a subtle spicy flavour to it. In fact, 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.
As a result, 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.
What is Crème Anglaise Used For?
Crème Anglaise goes best with the following desserts.
It goes without saying, if you prefer the traditional vanilla, forget the Chai. The spicy chai goes wonderfully with anything with a little ginger in it too - also for a touch of the exotic. The Chai is also delicious served with spiced cooked apples.
- Chocolate Fondant Cake with ginger
- Chocolate Lava Cakes
- French Apple Crumble Cake
- Brownies (gluten free)
- Upside-down Pear and Chocolate Cake
- French semolina cake (gâteau de semoule)
- French Apple Tart with Nougat
- Tarte Tatin - I had Chai ice cream served with this in a Parisian restaurant - so why not with Chai crème anglaise? Otherwise, add infuse Chai tea into either this chestnut and vanilla ice cream or in this Drambuie ice cream (and use Calvados). The possibilities are up to your creativity with these recipes.
Is it Served Hot or Cold?
Crème Anglaise is normally served chilled. However, it's often also served at room temperature.
I prefer it at room temperature, as it gives the flavours in the custard the best chance to shine.
To serve, remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.
Creme Anglaise with Chai Tea
- 300 g (10.5oz/ 1¼ cups) whole milk full fat
- 1 teabag sachet/ 2 teaspoon loose tea) Chai tea (or any other tea/infusion or tea)
- 3 organic egg yolks
- 40 g (1.5oz/3 tbsp) sugar
- Heat the milk and Chai teabag (or infuse with loose tea) 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/spices.
- 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 a serving jug to cool. Chill 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 Fondant Cake with ginger, 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. Measures: Please note that all my recipes are best made using digital kitchen scales in precise metric grams. Both ounces (and cups) are given as an approximate guide.