Floating Island

 I’ll be honest – I’d never even heard of a floating island dessert until I went to dinner and a nice French restaurant in San Francisco.  Floating island was one of just a few desserts on the menu and I definitely wanted dessert and nothing else really caught my fancy so I decided to give it a try.

It comes out, a dome of meringue floating in a light caramel sauce and I was in heaven.  It’s so good!  As soon as I got home I started to research floating islands on the interwebs and they’re remarkably easy to make.  Granted, mine absolutely did NOT look as pretty as the restaurant version, but that’s on brand for me.  More importantly, it tastes amazing and seems fancier and more complicated than it really is. Honestly, ignore how ugly it is because it tastes amazing.

Just a note ahead of time – these need time to cool and then to chill, so if you’re serving this for, say, a dinner party you should make it the day before.  It’s not like cookies where you can eat them right out of the oven.

Ingredients

  • 5 eggs, brought to room temperature
  • 7 T sugar, separated
  • 3 t vanilla, separated
  • 4 cups milk

Directions

Literally, that’s it.  Four ingredients.  Four ingredients that make two distinctly different flavors that work so well together!

First off, separate the eggs so that you have 5 yolks in one bowl and 5 whites in the other.  We’ll start with the yolks.

Take the bowl with the yolks, add in half the sugar (3 ½ Tablespoons) and 2 t of the vanilla and whip until the mixture is kind of thick and a nice pale yellow.  Set this aside – we’re not quite done with it.

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Grab the bowl with the egg whites and beat them until they start to form peaks.  Add in the remaining 3 ½ Tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat until you have stiff peaks – this is your meringue. Set this aside.

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In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until it begins to boil, add in the remaining teaspoon of vanilla and stir until they’re combined.

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Now here comes the fun but maybe a little tricky part – put a heaping tablespoon of your egg white mixture (the meringue) into the boiling milk and poach it on each side for about 4 minutes, turning it over halfway so each side gets a couple minutes.

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Once the meringues are done, move them to wax paper to cool.

Continue doing this with all of the meringue you have.  You can do more than one at a time, but don’t do too many – you want to keep them apart so they don’t stick together.

DO NOT toss the milk once you’re done poaching the meringues.  Instead, get your bowl with the egg yolks that you set aside at the beginning.  Pour about ¾ a cup of the warm milk over your egg yolks and whisk until everything is well blended.  Keep repeating this until all the milk is combined with your yolk mixture.

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Next, pour this mixture back into the saucepan and simmer for about 3 minutes until you start to get a liquid-y custard and the mixture coats a spoon.

Remove the custard from the heat and pour into a bowl.  Let it cool completely on your counter, then place the meringues (these are your “islands”) on top of the custard.  Cover with plastic wrap and move to the refrigerator to chill.  You should leave it there at least for a couple hours, and overnight is perfectly fine.

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When you’re ready to serve, ladle out the islands, and make sure there’s plenty of the liquid vanilla custard in there as well! 

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Makes enough to serve 4 people.

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