This is one of my all-time favorite treats to make. Like chocolate, crème anglaise has enough fat for whisky to cut through and while it pairs with the perfumed American straight whisky style very well, it pairs even better with a Laphroaig or any other heavily peated single malt. Vanilla and peat are a no-brainer but really vanilla and whisky are really awesome together no matter which style you prefer. If you feel like experimenting, you can replace the vanilla with some almond or orange extract and try pairing with a Bourbon or a sweeter, unpeated single malt. Or you could add a sprinkle of ground ginger to the yolks. Or maybe try adding some fennel seed or anise, or some passion fruit puree to the finished sauce. There are so many opportunities to play around with this recipe that I don’t have enough time to suggest them all.
A quick note about tradition: classically, you’re supposed to poach the egg whites in the cream you use to make the crème anglaise but I’m not one for tradition and the anglaise could benefit from a little time in the refrigerator to set up some, so I feel like my technique works, too. I make the anglaise ahead of time and then prepare the egg whites in scalding water a few minutes before serving. It’s much easier to mess up the sauce also, so it’s prudent to make that when you have time and do the whites when you’re ready to eat.
- 4 eggs separated
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbs cardamom seeds cracked in a mortar and pestle
- 1/2 c granulated sugar
- 2 tsps vanilla extract (if you have some homemade extract use it)
- Pinch of kosher salt
Crème anglaise: Prepare an ice bath and set in fridge until ready to use. Reserve 2 Tablespoons sugar, mix the rest with the yolks and a pinch of kosher salt and set aside. In a medium pot, bring the cardamom, milk and cream to a boil. Filter through a doubled up cheesecloth, reserve the liquid and discard the seeds. Temper the hot milk into the yolk mix 1/3 at a time. Put the mix back in the pot over medium-low heat. Gently swirl, continuously scraping the bottom of the pot with a silicone spatula until all the foam on the surface subsides completely. You could stop cooking the sauce, but I like a slightly thicker creme so I keep on stirring until it thickens slightly more, a few extra minutes. This is a slow process and could take up to ten minutes altogether once you start heating the eggs. You do not want to rush it at risk of curdling. When the sauce is at the right consistency (or if you start to see lumps), strain it into a bowl over the ice bath and stir for a couple minutes to stop the cooking. Add 1 tsp vanilla. Set aside, cover with plastic wrap and keep in refrigerator until ready to use. I wouldn’t leave it around for longer than a few days.
Poached whites: Bring a pot of water to a boil, cover and turn off heat. With an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites. Once the whites are frothy, sprinkle in the rest of the sugar a little at a time. Whip to medium peaks, add the rest of the vanilla and whip to firm peaks. Now take the cover off your water and as long as it’s not boiling turn the heat to low. You don’t want the water to be boiling or your whites will cook too densely. If it starts to bubble at any point turn off the heat again. Take a spoonful of egg whites and drop it in the hot water. Gently poach on each side for 1 min. Remove and place on a paper towel. Repeat until you have an egg white for each serving you plan to serve; place whites on a plate set aside in the fridge until ready to use. They’ll hold for a few hours but I like to make them right before serving to make sure they don’t dry out in the fridge.
Now just fill the bottom of your serving vessel with the creme anglaise, gently lay an egg white on top and enjoy with a nice peaty dram. Cheers!