This basic and delicious vanilla sauce is one of the culinary staples of dessert-making in France. Sometimes difficult to achieve because the cooking process must sit in right at the boiling point: one second too soon and your sauce is not as thick as you would like and one second too late, it will be a scrambled mess. My special trick at the bottom will make this an easy, no fuss, no problem favorite of yours... Enjoy! —Licia
Open the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds with the tip of a knife. Place the milk with the vanilla seeds and the vanilla bean in a heavy saucepan and bring slowly to an almost boil.
Place the egg yolks and the sugar into a mixing bowl and, using a wire whisk, beat the mixture briskly until the eggs have turned almost white and the mixture is silky, smooth and thick.
Pour about 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the eggs mixture and whisk it in until well incorporated but slowly enough to temper the eggs (bring up the temperature slowly so that they do not curdle or scramble). Add the rest of the milk to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Wash the saucepan so that there are no more milk solids in the pan, dry thoroughly and place the egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan.
Because you have used a wire whisk to mix the ingredients, there should be a fine sheet of bubbles at the surface of the mixture. This is the key... Most recipes will ask you to remove these bubbles and heat the milk/egg mixture until it is thick enough to draw a line on the back of the spoon and then stop the cooking. Most often, you will have curdled your cream by the time you realize it is cooked enough. Now follow this trick.
Use a wooden spoon to make the shape of an 8 in your egg mixture in a continuous fashion to scrape both the sides and the bottom of your pan. Watch carefully the bubbles at the surface of your mixture. As the eggs start to heat and coagulate, the liquid will start imprisoning the bubbles and reducing to smaller and smaller bubbles. Watch as the bubbles diminish in size and the cream gets thicker. At the exact moment when all bubbles have completely disappeared from the surface of the milk, your cream is cooked perfectly. Pour immediately into a clean bowl, possibly over a larger bowl filled with ice and, stirring once in a while, allow to cool completely before putting in the refrigerator.
This sauce is the basis for homemade ice cream. It can also be used with fresh or cooked fruits, and marries instantly with chocolate cakes.