Growing up in southern Germany one of my all-time favorite desserts was Dampfnudeln. My mom would prepare these delicious fluffy soft yeast dumplings, often filled with fruit jam, and serve them drizzled with homemade Vanillesoße. She always knew to make a double batch of vanilla sauce because as good as Dampfnudeln are, the sauce was my favorite part! Some things never change and my love for desserts generously drizzled with this German vanilla sauce has remained with me.
What is Vanillesoße?
Vanillesoße is German for “vanilla sauce”. It is a relatively thin and creamy sauce meant for pouring on desserts and is made with milk and/or cream, egg yolks, cornstarch, sugar and vanilla. It is not overly sweet, rather it’s meant to complement already sweet desserts. It is the go-to dessert sauce in Germany for things like cakes, tarts, pastries, and a variety of fruit desserts and is served both warm or cold.
Vanilla Sauce vs. Vanilla Custard (Crème Anglaise)
Vanilla Sauce and Vanilla Custard are very similar, the primary differences being the consistency and the ratio of ingredients. Vanilla custard is thicker (sometimes thick enough to use as a pastry filling), a tad sweeter, and relies more heavily on egg yolks for thickening. While Vanillesoße is served both warm or cold and retains it pourable consistency in either case, vanilla custard becomes thicker as it cools and so is generally served warm. Just as Vanillesoße is the go-to sauce in Germany, Vanilla Custard (i.e., Crème Anglaise) is go-to in Great Britain.
How to Make Vanillesoße
In Germany vanilla sauce is so popular that it comes ready made as a powder that you simply add liquid to. There are shortcut recipes that use vanilla pudding mix. But as with all things, you can’t beat the flavor of homemade and from-scratch. And as easy as it is to make yourself, there’s simply no excuse not to!
Making vanilla sauce simply involves whisking egg yolks and sugar together with some cornstarch, boiling some milk, pouring a little of that boiling milk over the egg mixture, and then transferring the egg mixture to the pot of boiling milk and heating until thickened. For a perfectly smooth sauce you can take the added step of pouring the finished sauce through a fine mesh strainer. In Germany vanilla extract isn’t used nearly as much as it is in the U.S.. Instead vanilla beans are used and in the case of Vanillesoße the bean is sliced, scraped, and brought to a boil with the milk. You have the option of going that route or using vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract instead. Vanilla extract is the easiest to find as well as the most cost effective and as long as you use quality pure vanilla extract the end result will be excellent.
How Do I Make Low Fat or Sugar Free Vanillesoße?
I like to supplement some of the milk with heavy cream for added richness. If you prefer a lower calorie version you can use milk only or even low fat milk. Additionally, if you’d like to make sugar free vanilla sauce you can substitute the sugar for alternative granular sugar.
How to Serve Vanilla Sauce
Vanilla Sauce Recipe
Let’s get started!
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt.
Place the milk, heavy cream, and vanilla in a medium saucepan.
Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent it from scorching.
Whisk 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture.
Pour this egg mixture into the saucepan, constantly whisking it into the hot milk to prevent clumping.
Heat the mixture over medium heat until thickened. Do not let it boil.
Strain the vanilla sauce through a fine mesh sieve.
Serve immediately or let it cool and store covered in the fridge. Will keep for up to 3 days. Can be served cold or reheated to serve warm.
See blog post about for serving recommendations.
Vanillesoße (German Vanilla Sauce)
- 1 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped OR 1 tablespoon quality pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt. In a medium saucepan bring the milk, heavy cream, and vanilla to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent it from scorching. Whisk 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. Pour this egg mixture into the saucepan, constantly whisking it into the hot milk to prevent clumping. Heat the mixture over medium heat until thickened. Do not let it boil. Strain the vanilla sauce through a fine mesh sieve. Serve immediately or let it cool and store covered in the fridge. Will keep for up to 3 days. Can be served cold or reheated to serve warm. Makes about 2 1/2 cups of Vanillesoße.