MAKES: About 2 cups (6 to 8 servings)

TIME: 15 minutes

A spin on creme Anglaise, the English-style custard sauce, only this one-step, one-pot method is super-easy and lends itself to many more variations. See Infusing Liquids with Flavor for some ideas; since you strain the sauce anyway, just add ingredients right into the pot as the custard cooks. If you prefer a richer sauce, use cream in place of some or all of the milk. Feel free to use hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts, or pistachios here. I love this with Almond Cake, but it’s also delicious drizzled over Cream Puffs or for dipping Churros.

3/4 cup chopped almonds

2 cups milk

1/2 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

Put the almonds in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and beginning to toast, about 3 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and whisk well to combine. Cook, whisking almost constantly, until the mixture thickens and reaches 175-180В°F. Do not let it boil. (There will be a thick coating on the back of a spoon; see the illustration Coating the Back of a Spoon.)

While still hot, strain the sauce through a sieve and let cool a bit. You can serve warm or chilled. The sauce keeps, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Variations

Vanilla Custard Sauce. The classic: Omit the almonds and skip to Step 2, adding 1 split vanilla bean to the pot.

Chocolate Custard Sauce. Omit the almonds (or not). In Step 2, add 1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) chopped semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate to the pot and let it melt as the mixture heats.