Kitchen Hacks

Why Ina Garten Loves Melting Vanilla Ice Cream (Yes, on Purpose)

How easy is that?

April  8, 2019
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Crème anglaise is a sweet custard sauce, which is to say: the best kind of sauce. You can serve it hot, warm, or cold—poured on chocolate cake, bread pudding, fresh fruit, and oh-so much more.

The only catch is making it.

Most crème anglaise recipes call for milk and cream, sweetened with sugar, thickened with egg yolks, and flavored with vanilla bean. The egg yolk part is where it gets tricky: If you add too much hot milk to the yolks at one time, they’ll scramble. And if you cook the custard too high or too fast on the stove, same issue. (I need not tell you that scrambled eggs and chocolate cake aren’t a great match.)

Luckily, the brilliant Ina Garten found a way around all this...

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Top Comment:
“The best thing I have learned from Ina (other than she is my favorite cook to follow) has myself and my family trying new things all the time. One is using leeks in chicken and dumplings. They’re a sweet alternative to onion that brings my most turned to comfort food to an entirely new level. I won’t cook chicken and dumplings using any other recipe now. ”
— Amanda
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You melt vanilla ice cream. Just make sure it’s “good” vanilla ice cream, as Ina would say. Häagan-Daz and Breyer’s are safe bets. And yes: Leaving a pint on your counter, to melt into oblivion, feels wrong. But, as Ina points out, it’s the ultimate dessert shortcut.

“Vanilla ice cream is essentially crème anglaise that’s been frozen,” she writes in Cook Like a Pro. “I reverse the process and end up with crème anglaise!”

This means if you have ice cream in your freezer, you have crème anglaise at all times. Pouring it on any dessert makes the dish seem infinitely more elegant. And you won’t have to tell anyone just how easy it was.

Here are six desserts that just can’t wait to be covered in crème anglaise:


Also Very Good With Crème Anglaise:

What’s the best thing you've learned from Ina? Tell, tell in the comments.
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Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.

6 Comments

pamela April 24, 2019
I so disagree on the melted ice cream as a stand-in for creme anglaise. Ice cream mixture is made sweeter because at cold temps you cannot taste everything.. that means when you melt it you will have a cloyingly sweet sauce, which is wrong.. anglaise should be 'just' sweet so as not to overpower that which it is accompanying.
 
Amanda April 10, 2019
This sounds wonderful and so much easier! The best thing I have learned from Ina (other than she is my favorite cook to follow) has myself and my family trying new things all the time. One is using leeks in chicken and dumplings. They’re a sweet alternative to onion that brings my most turned to comfort food to an entirely new level. I won’t cook chicken and dumplings using any other recipe now.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 10, 2019
Yes! I love using leeks instead of onions in soups and stews. Great oniony flavor and they're so green and pretty.
 
William M. April 8, 2019
The French have been using this for years! I was taught it in 70s working as a chef for the Hotel Sofitel
 
Gemma1122 April 8, 2019
I see what you're saying, yet, I think all those desserts would be amazing with frozen vanilla ice cream as well.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 9, 2019
They would be!