Ina Garten Swears by This One-Ingredient Hack — And I’ll Never Serve Dessert Another Way

published Dec 27, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Talaya Centeno/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock

What if I told you that you could make a rich, pourable, vanilla-flecked dessert sauce to pour onto baked goods that tastes just like fancy crème anglaise with just one ingredient and zero cooking? You would probably say that there’s no such thing, but I’m here to reassure you that indeed this magical thing exists. In fact, Ina Garten swears by it — and so do I!

Vanilla Ice Cream Is the Secret

The answer to this wonderful sauce lies in the grocery store freezer aisle. In fact, even your corner bodega might have it: vanilla ice cream! Vanilla ice cream is essentially a custard sauce or crème anglaise (made from egg yolks, sugar, cream or milk, and vanilla) where air is churned into it before it’s frozen. 

Let vanilla ice cream (I recommend vanilla bean ice cream for all those gorgeous flecks of vanilla seeds) melt and you’re left with a silky, pourable sauce ready to drizzle over desserts and baked goods.

Why This Is the Easiest Dessert Sauce

Making a real crème anglaise is no joke: You have to cook and heat the egg yolks properly so that they thicken the sauce, but it’s quite easy to go too far and scramble the eggs. There’s a lot of whisking, stirring, and temperature monitoring, not to mention the time it takes for the sauce to cool down and chill before you can even serve it. Let’s not forget about all the dishes and cleanup too.

With this easy hack, all the hard work of making the custard is already done for you. Your job is to let a pint of vanilla ice cream sit on the counter (or in the refrigerator if you want to do it a day ahead) until it goes from frozen to pourable. Transfer it to a cute little pitcher and impress your guests by pouring it tableside when it’s time for dessert.

What to Serve with this Dessert Sauce

You can serve this shortcut sauce with anything you would serve vanilla ice cream or crème anglaise with. Here are some of our favorites.