Creme anglaise, translated as English cream, is a pouring custard, used as a cream for desserts or fruits. It is a mixture of cream, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla. This pouring custard is cooked over the stove as opposed to a cooked custard, such as creme brulee, that contains whole eggs and is cooked in a water bath in the oven. It has a very creamy texture. Think liquid vanilla ice cream and you'll get the idea.
Recipe for Creme Anglaise:
(adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water. Gather together a strainer and a heatproof bowl to hold the finished cream.
Place the milk and cream in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. While you're waiting for the milk/cream mixture to come to a boil, place in a medium bowl the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together until well blended.
Remove the hot milk/cream mixture from the stove. Whisking while you pour, drizzle in about one-quarter of the milk/cream into the egg/sugar mixture. Once the eggs are acclimated to the heat, you can whisk in the remaining liquid a little more quickly.
Pour the custard back into the pan on the stove and cook over low to medium-low heat, stirring without stopping with a wooden spoon until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon. At this point you need to be very careful it doesn't get too hot and curdle. To make sure that doesn't happen, once it starts to thicken, run your finger down the bowl of the spoon. The custard should not run back into the track you left with your finger.
Remove it immediately from the heat and strain the custard into a bowl placed over the large bowl that is filled with ice and water. Stir in the vanilla extract. Leave it sitting in the ice bath for 20 minutes stirring occasionally until chilled, about 20 minutes.
Cover tightly and refrigerate. If possible, chill it for 24 hours before using it to allow the flavors to intensify and thicken a bit more.