Here’s a lovely treat to try out: Floating islands. These French desserts consist of a meringue floating on top of a creme anglaise (or vanilla custard). Top this delicious dish with a little caramel or chocolate sauce, and a few fresh berries, and you have a delicious dessert that looks great served in a cocktail glass, or even as a small dessert shot. Keep reading below for the recipe for this wonderful, creative dessert…
(makes 12 servings)
- 1 tablespoon softened butter
- 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
- 12 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- a pinch of salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups hot milk
- a pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
- 1 tablespoon rum (optional)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon butter
- For the Meringue: Butter a 3″ deep baking sheet and dust the inside with confectioners sugar, knocking out the excess. Preheat the oven to 250F.
- Start beating the egg whites until they are foamy throughout. Beat in the salt and cream of tartar, then gradually increase the speed until soft peaks form.
- Beat in the sugar into the forming meringue, gradually adding until the meringue becomes glossy and shining peaks form. Beat in the vanilla and turn the meringue out into the prepared baking dish.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a draw plunged through the middle comes out clean. Set the dish on a rack to let cool.
- For the Creme Anglaise: Whisk the egg yolks in a medium saucepan, adding the sugar gradually. continue beating 2-3 minutes until the mixture becomes pale yellow and thick. Slowly stir (don’t beat) in the hot milk, avoiding creating bubbles.
- Set the saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring slowly and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan. The sauce should approach a simmer, but never actually reach it. When the surface bubbles begin to subside, and the sauce coats a wooden spoon with a light, creamy layer that holds onto your finger when drawn across, the sauce is done.
- Add in the vanilla, butter and rum to the sauce and stir. Set aside.
- For the Caramel Sauce, blend together the sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and swirl the pan to be sure the sugar has dissolved completely.
- Cover the pan tightly and boil the syrup for several minutes over medium-high heat. Peek after a minute or so, and boil until the bubbles are nice and thick. Uncover the pan and continue boiling, swirling the pan slowly by the handled.
- Continue to boil until the sauce becomes a light caramel brown, then remove from the heat. Stir in the butter and cream. Put back on the heat, and cook over low heat and stir with a fork until any hardened caramel melts and the sauce is uniformly smooth. Set the bottom of the pan in cold water to cool and stop the cooking.
- To Serve: Pour the custard into a serving platter (or individual shots or dinner plates). run a knife around the edge of the meringue dish and push with a rubber spatula to loosen. Unmold the meringue into a cookie sheet, and cut into as many servings as there are dishes, or unto 6-8 big chinks on the case of a serving platter. Arrange them over the creme anglaise.
- Drizzle the meringue with the caramel sauce, and garnish with nuts and/or fresh berries.
Recipe adapted from Food.com