Many years ago, we shared a well-loved dairy-free maple soy custard recipe. The name caused confusion, since many envisioned a firm-type custard. In reality, it was a traditional custard, known as crème anglaise. This classic custard is thickened only with egg, and has a rich, velvety, and pourable consistency. It’s meant for drizzling over desserts, like fruit, crisp, cobbler, cake, and bread pudding. Today, I’m updating this post with my new dairy-free crème anglaise recipe, photos, notes, and options.
Easy Dairy-Free Crème Anglaise with No Tempering Required!
Honestly, I’ve always hated tempering, and I never quite understood it. So I did some research, and learned why we do it, when it’s needed, and when it isn’t. Here’s what I discovered about tempering, and my recommendations for the best milk alternatives to use for delicious dairy-free crème anglaise.
How Does Crème Anglaise work without Tempering?
Tempering is required when you are adding eggs to hot liquid. You slowly add a little of hot liquid into the beaten eggs, whisking constantly, in attempt to avoid scrambling them. But this tricky step is only needed when you must heat the liquid in advance for some reason. For example, if you want to infuse vanilla bean into the liquid by simmering it for a little while. In this case, your liquid is already hot, so you have to temper the eggs in.
If you’re using vanilla extract or paste, you can simply whisk the unheated milk alternative, egg yolks, and sugar together, and place the pan over the heat to cook them altogether. If you don’t believe me, listen to the experts at Cooks Illustrated. Heating the eggs with the liquid actually helps ensure smoother, more foolproof results.
Milk Alternative Options for Dairy-Free Crème Anglaise
I use a plain, unsweetened, additive-free soymilk when cooking recipes like EdenSoy, WestSoy, or Trader Joe’s. It’s richer and higher protein than many other milk alternatives, and the lack of thickeners helps prevent curdling or other cooking issues.
If you opt to use another milk beverage, keep in mind that some might not be rich enough, and some might curdle or thicken strangely. We haven’t tested them all. Homemade almond milk or homemade cashew milk made with a little less water (3 to 3.5 cups nuts to 1 cup water) should work great. But if you are using a thinner, store-bought version, you can whisk about 1/2 teaspoon starch in with the milk beverage to help get the right consistency.
Special Diet Notes: Dairy-Free Crème Anglaise
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, optionally paleo, and vegetarian.
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons sugar (see Sweetener Note below)
- 1 cup plain soymilk or lite canned coconut milk (see Milk Alternative Options in post above)
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- In a small pot, whisk the yolks and sugar together for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sugar is fully dissolved and the yolks are more of a pale yellow.
- Whisk in the milk until smooth.
- Place the pot over medium-low heat, and heat, whisking often, for 10 to 20 minutes, or until lightly thickened to coat the back of the spoon. Do not let the mixture reach a boil. The time will depend on your pot and stove, but it should be slowly heated.
- Remove he pot from the heat and whisk in the salt and vanilla.
- Let the sauce cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will thicken a little more if chilled for a day.
Thickness Concerns? You can add ½ teaspoon starch in with the egg yolks and sugar if you want to ensure light thickening. But we prefer the classic egg-only texture. See the post above for all options.