A silken, pourable, sweet and creamy custard sauce is a thing of beauty. I am a bit of a purist and my recipe does not use corn starch to thicken. Thickening of the sauce is achieved from the slow cooking of egg yolks and sugar in cream coupled with some elbow grease, but the result is something absolutely luxurious.
Enough of me, waxing poetic about this most exalted of British sauces, let’s get down to making some. Make sure the yolks and sugar are well incorporated. They should be beaten to a pale yellow, slightly thick and sticky fluid. Tempering the yolks is also very important. All that means is, the yolks need to have hot cream added in small increments to bring the temperature up before adding them to the saucepan. It’s a step that can’t be missed, or you will curdle your sauce. Once the tempered yolks are added, constant stirring and attention are required. Don’t turn your back. Think of how fast eggs scramble in a hot pan. Follow these few rules and your custard will be perfect.
Custard sauce is luscious over fresh berries, steamed puddings, gingerbread, baked apples, fruit pies, bread puddings and loads of other desserts.
Traditional Custard Sauce
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups cream
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
Separate egg yolks into a mixing bowl and whisk in sugar until the yolks turn a pale yellow and are a thick, sticky liquid.
Set saucepan over medium high heat and add milk and cream. Bring to just below the boil, stirring frequently. The surface will be frothy and steamy and any cream on the spoon will be loaded with tiny bubbles. Turn heat down to medium low.
Temper the egg yolks by adding a tablespoon or two of hot cream to the mixture and stirring vigorously immediately. Repeat this 5 or 6 times until the yolks are quite warm.
Slowly pour yolk mixture into the hot cream while whisking constantly. After yolks are added, continue to whisk until the sauce has thickened. This takes about 20 to 25 minutes, but if the sauce doesn't coat and cling to a spoon, continue to whisk over heat. Do not turn your back on the sauce or it will curdle. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
Once sauce is thickened, remove from heat and add vanilla. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. The sauce should get a good stir before serving, as a skin will form as it cools. It can be served cold or warm.