Vanilla sauce


Swedish style vanilla sauce

A good vaniljsås (vanilla sauce) has a wonderful subtle flavour and a lovely delicate consistency. It is frequently served with fruit desserts in Sweden, especially with pies where it is assumed to be the natural partner. Vaniljsås also often makes an appearance at fika (coffee and cake break time) if a fruit based cake is served, so most cafés will have a jug of vanilla sauce handy.

The nearest equivalent in the UK is custard and sometimes vaniljsås is translated as custard, but the two things really aren’t the same. Vaniljsås is not quite as thick, has a more subtle flavour and is nice hot or cold, whereas cold custard really isn’t very pleasant. Custard has also rather gone out of fashion and now tends to be only served with fairly heavy traditional British puddings, whereas vaniljsås is still fashionable in Sweden.

Inevitably, because vaniljsås is so popular in Sweden, the quality varies enormously as many people use readymade versions, some of which are packed with emulsifiers, stabilisers and colouring. It really is worth making it properly to experience the delicate flavour, as it isn’t difficult and it keeps well in a jug in the fridge.

There are two recipes below: the first is a traditional recipe, the second is a richer version using only cream, sugar, vanilla and egg yolks. John Duxbury



• Do not use an aluminium saucepan as the sauce is likely to discolour slightly.
• Take care not to heat the sauce too quickly or to let it boil once the eggs have been added or it will curdle.
• If sauce does curdle, pour it into a blender and process until smooth before straining.


Ingredients for vanilla sauce

1   vanilla pod
120 ml (½ cup) double or whipping cream (heavy whipping cream)
180 ml (¾ cup) full fat milk (3-4%)
2   egg yolks
2 tbsp   caster (superfine) sugar
2 tsp   potato flour (starch) or cornflour (cornstarch)
180 ml (¾ cup) whipping cream


1. Split the vanilla pod in two lengthways.

2. Bring the cream, milk and vanilla pod to a boil in a stainless steel saucepan or a non-stick pan, stirring constantly.

3. Remove from the heat and leave the vanilla to infuse for 10-15 minutes and then remove the pod.

4. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and potato flour (starch) with a little of the vanilla cream mixture.

Cream and milk being heated to make vanilla sauce

5. Pour into the rest of the vanilla cream mixture and simmer over a medium/low heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.  (Be careful not to rush this or the sauce might burn.  Also, don't let it boil or the sauce will curdle.) Set aside to cool.

A bowl of vanilla sauce

6. Whisk the whipping cream until soft peaks are formed. Fold in the vanilla sauce until evenly mixed.

7. Serve cold or gently warmed through.

Rich version

A rich version of vanilla sauce with Brösarp's apple pudding

This recipe produces a lovely rich and well-flavoured vanilla sauce, shown above with a portion of Brösarps äppelkaka (Brösarp's apple pudding). It looks very yellow, but the colour is completely natural and is due to the use of three egg yolks.

No flour (starch) used to thicken the sauce, but it is still quite thick (the photo shows the sauce served straight out of the fridge). If you prefer the sauce to be runny, simply heat it slightly in a saucepan or a microwave, being careful not to let it boil.


300 ml (1¼ cups) whipping cream
100 g (7 tbsp) caster (superfine) sugar
1   vanilla pod, split lengthways
3   egg yolks


1. Mix 250 ml (1 cup) of the cream with the sugar and vanilla pod and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

2. Whisk the egg yolks with a little of the vanilla cream mixture.

3. Pour into the rest of the vanilla cream mixture and bring back to a gentle simmer.

4. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

5. Whisk the remaining cream until soft peaks are formed. Fold into the vanilla sauce just before serving. 


  printer version.pdf

  phone & tablet version.pdf

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