Vanilla Citrus Crème

Vanilla Citrus Crème

What can be more refreshing on a hot summer night than a rich vanilla crème sauce flecked with vanilla specks? Our version is infused with the bright citrus flavors of orange, lemon and lime with a splash of Tuaca, an Italian liqueur. This impressive but simple recipe will wow your dinner guests, and is sure to become a staple in your repertoire to serve over many different dessert bases.

10 servings


2 oranges
1 lemon
1 lime
1 vanilla bean
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup Tuaca Liqueur
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup unsalted butter, cold
1 cup good quality vanilla yogurt
1 can mandarin oranges
1 angel food or pound cake


Juice the oranges, lemon and lime, strain and pour into a medium saucepan. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds with the tip of your knife and place the seeds and the bean in the saucepan. Bring the vanilla–citrus mixture to a simmer and reduce by two-thirds, stirring occasionally. Once it is reduced, add the sugar and Tuaca liqueur and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.

[Chef’s note: The mixture should become thicker, but don’t reduce too long or it will evaporate].

Whisk in the heavy cream and simmer to reduce another two-thirds, stirring occasionally. Watch carefully that the mixture doesn’t boil. A soft simmer is ideal.

Lower the heat and slowly whisk in the cold butter to form a beurre blanc sauce. Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Whisk in the cup of vanilla yogurt and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Place slices of the pound cake on a plate and garnish with mandarin oranges. Place a generous dollop of the Vanilla Citrus Crème Sauce over the cake and oranges and serve. This sauce is so versatile that you can also serve it over a rich panna cotta or even over a bowl full of berries. Use it like you might use a crème anglaise. It’s even been known to show up as a dip for skewered fruits.

Recipe and photo by Lia Soscia