What are some healthier alternatives to creme anglais?
May 24, 2020 8:06 PM   Subscribe

Weight gain and middle age means no more creme anglais on my signature raspberry bread pudding. Still, for the dessert to work, the tartness and acidity of the raspberries needs a dense, creamy, sweet counterbalancing sauce, only one that isn't as bad for you as CA. Suggestions?
posted by BadgerDoctor to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Could you serve it with something on the side, rather than a sauce? I'm thinking of some Swiss cheese or maybe sliced cucumber -- not sweet, but does have a creaminess or a coolness that cuts the acid of the raspberries. The pudding itself becomes a kind of accent to the overall setting, maybe, depending on how acidic it is.

I'm trying here to get away from the sweetness so that the whole thing becomes more sustainable -- it's really a different experience, but still good. Maybe novel, too, which is harder to achieve the older you are :)
posted by amtho at 8:16 PM on May 24, 2020

Vanilla yogurt? You can put it in a paper towel lined sieve over night to drain the whey and make it thicker.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:23 PM on May 24, 2020 [5 favorites]

Given how liquid creme anglaise is, I would absolutely just use coconut milk, maybe with some vanilla bean in there (a key component of creme anglaise!) if you have it on hand..
posted by supercres at 8:43 PM on May 24, 2020 [5 favorites]

Apparently you can make a full-on coconut milk creme anglaise. I'd do that if the coconut milk isn't too sweet already, and leave out the extra sugar. (Assuming it's the sugar and dairy that's the problem.)
posted by supercres at 8:46 PM on May 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I would go with Greek or coconut yoghurt. And if you feel like sharing your bread pudding recipe, that would be great!
posted by Jubey at 8:56 PM on May 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Evidently you can make creme anglais with low fat milk instead of cream. This recipe for vanilla creme anglais is 34 calories per serving, and should come off as dessert-y enough I'd think. (There are also recipes that substitute stevia for sugar along with low fat milk for cream, if you want to be even more stringent.)
posted by nantucket at 9:59 PM on May 24, 2020

Tahini can make miraculous creamy things if you process it right. Savagely blend roughly equal quantitites of water and tahini, then calm the whizzing down a bit while slowly adding water until you come up with something roughly the consistency of a whipping cream; then use it like whipping cream.

The bitter notes moderate quite a lot when it's diluted like this and it becomes a delicious base for all kinds of things you might otherwise use cream for.
posted by flabdablet at 11:25 PM on May 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've been using oat cream in place of single cream for the last few years. It won't have quite the same sweet/custardy taste & mouthfeel as creme anglaise but it's very creamy and a good counterbalance to sweet/tart stuff. Mixing in vanilla, as others have suggested above, would also help with the flavour profile.
posted by terretu at 2:01 AM on May 25, 2020

Creme Anglaise is sugar, milk and egg yolks right? I’d be curious how it cones out when made with a zero-calorie sweetener, if that’s an option.
posted by STFUDonnie at 4:27 AM on May 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Going in a slightly different direction, creme anglaise is an egg custard with cream; how about making a cornflour custard with milk instead?
posted by offog at 4:59 AM on May 25, 2020

"Healthy" can mean lots of different things to different people, and it might help if you say what you mean. Low fat? Low carb? Low sugar? Low calorie overall? Low cholesterol?

If you're avoiding sugar in particular, one thing that might go well is whipped cream. If you make it yourself instead of using the kind in a can, you can make it using less sugar than most recipes call for, and the result is a rich but mild and cool counterbalance to strong flavored desserts.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:09 AM on May 25, 2020 [4 favorites]

Something I make to go with berries is a simple topping made from whole milk Greek-style yogurt like Cabot or sour cream with a few spoonfuls of light brown sugar beaten in until smooth, then chilled. You can also add a dash of brandy if that's your thing. Look for recipes for Romanoff sauce: I think you can also make this with vegan ingredients if that is a concern for you.
posted by Otter_Handler at 7:29 AM on May 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

I think silken tofu would make a good base for a healthier topping; I came across this recipe as I was searching. I bet you could scale back the maple syrup a lot to reduce calories/sugar, and it would be worth trying without the cashews to make it simpler.
posted by obfuscation at 7:52 AM on May 25, 2020

I’m vegan and love tofu, but I’ve not loved it in desserts unless something strong like chocolate covers up the flavor. I would suggest going with something cashew based - it’s shocking how well cashews work as a cream substitute. I found this recipe googling.
posted by FencingGal at 8:02 AM on May 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

What if you included a few chunks of white chocolate in the bread pudding, instead of using a sauce?
posted by bunderful at 10:44 AM on May 25, 2020

"Bad for you" is different for different people, but if it's the sugar/carbs you're trying to avoid, you can whip cream with vanilla to a soft or "wet" texture so it resembles creme anglais. Just whip cream as normal, and stop just as it's starting to get to aerated and thick. Even better with fresh vanilla, still great with extract or paste. I used to make it all the time to top fresh berries when I was on a sugar/carb-restricted diet.

If you want something lower-fat, a low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt would be nice.
posted by rhiannonstone at 8:36 PM on May 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

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