From Fine Cooking #132, p. 90
Crème anglaise, a lightly thickened dessert sauce made from milk (and/or cream), sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks, is easy to make but requires a technique called tempering, which allows the yolks to thicken without curdling. Yolks begin to set at around 150°F to 155°F, which means you can’t just stir them into hot milk. Instead, you need to whisk a little of the hot milk into the yolks to gently raise the eggs’ temperature; only then do you combine the tempered yolks with the rest of the hot milk.
Get the recipe: Bourbon Crème Anglaise
Photos: Scott Phillips
Adding hot milk to eggs a little at a time keeps the heat from curdling the eggs.
At first, the sauce is too thin to coat the back of a spoon dipped into it.
Once it's cooked long enough, the sauce thickens just enough to coat the back of the spoon and hold a line drawn through it with a finger.