The cream is made by whipping egg yolks and sugar together until the yolk is almost white, adding hot milk little by little, and cooking in a double boiler. The sauce is stirred with a spoon until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and then must be withdrawn from the heat. If the sauce reaches too high a temperature, it will curdle. Cooking temperature should be between 156 °F (69c) and 185 °F (85c); the higher the temperature, the thicker the resulting cream.
This can be poured as a sauce over cakes, fruits, etc. Alternatively, it can be eaten as a dessert on its own, often in the presentation of Île flottante ("floating island"): the cream is poured into a bowl with a piece of cooked foamy egg whites (blancs en neige) on top. It can also be used as a base for desserts such as ice cream or crème brûlée.
Other names includes 'crème à l'anglaise' and 'crème française'.