Sauces are an easy way to dress up your main item. They can influence both the taste and look of your plate. They can brighten up the appearance of an otherwise drab main item. While it’s tempting to choose a bright color for contrast, it’s essential to make sure the flavor pairs well with the main item. No matter how cool it may look, I wouldn’t want a bright green kiwi sauce mixing in with say a caramel flavored tart.
There’s a lot of different ways to make a dessert sauce. I’ve chosen four types to introduce that are fairly quick and easy to make.
Creams…A basic creme anglaise can be flavored in a variety of ways such as with spices, herbs, coffee, nuts, or fruits. The basic cream is made by mixing yolks and sugar into heated milk and cream until it becomes thick.
Chocolate…Chocolate can easily be turned into a sauce by melting it and combining it with milk, cream, and butter. You can use dark, milk or white chocolate. You can also just melt pure chocolate and draw outlines with it and fill the shapes with a sauce as shown above.
Caramel…This sauce is made by caramelizing sugar and then adding cream and butter. Adding a little but of corn syrup keeps it soft and prevents crystallization.
Fruit Coulis. A coulis is a thickened puree. Fruit purees offer a lot of flavor and there is a lot of color to choose from. Blend fresh fruit and then strain out the seeds and fibers by pressing it through a sieve. Sweeten it by stirring in confectioner’s sugar and enhance with a liquor flavoring if you like. Raspberry is one I use often because it’s easy to make, bright and pairs well with chocolate, my favorite kind of dessert.
None of these sauces take much time to actually make and are all fairly simple to prepare. You can prepare them in advance and store them in the refrigerator. If they become too thick to use, you just need to warm them slightly. I like to make and store them in these bottles until I’m ready to serve my guests. Squeeze bottles with smaller tips would work even better so you can control the flow when making a design.
I have not discussed how to plate these sauces in this post because it’s just too much for one post. I will get to that in another Finale Friday post. For now, I leave you with a recipe for a very basic sauce.
Basic Vanilla Creme Anglaise (makes 2 cups)
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean split or 1/2 tsp extract
4 egg yolks
Heat the milk, cream, vanilla bean and half the sugar in a small saucepan to just boiling. (*See below for another flavoring option). Whisk together the yolks and remaining sugar. Slowly add the hot milk mixture to the yolks, while stirring continuously. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat on low and stir until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Strain it through a sieve into a cold bowl or a bowl sitting in ice.
*The hot milk mixture can be flavored before the thickening process by steeping it with a spice, nuts or herbs. For example, you could make a cinnamon flavored creme anglaise by letting cinnamon sticks soak in the hot milk mixture for an hour. Remove or strain it and reheat your mixture before continuing with the recipe.