A Divine Dessert: A Floating Island
Today, we need to talk about Floating Islands. Just close your eyes please and imagine pillowy soft meringues floating in a puddle of rich, creamy custard, topped with caramel sauce. Congratulations! You have managed to conjure up an image of the most heavenly dessert… A Floating Island.
I’ve been longing to make this dessert for quite some time now. That’s because it’s simply my favorite.
The reason for the delay was that I thought it would be too time consuming and difficult to make. . An afternoon spent creating it, with my dear friend and fabulous cook Tina Fairbanks convinced me otherwise.
The Floating Island, which the French claimed to have invented, was a very popular dessert in the 1950’s. Julia Child included a recipe for it in one of her earliest cookbooks. Proving the adage that “everything old is new again,” the dessert has recently returned to the forefront of popular taste.
Tina and I had so much fun cooking together that we thought we would embark on a series of old fashioned desserts that beg to be brought back into fashion
Well here goes the first of our series:
There are 3 separate recipes for this dessert Meringues, Custard and Caramel.
3 cups whole milk
2 vanilla beans, cut split open lengthwise
6 egg whites
Pinch of salt
3/8-cup sugar (6 tablespoons)
Pour milk into a skillet. Scrape the inside of the vanilla beans. Add beans and scrapings to milk and stir until combined. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Do not boil. Remove from heat and cover. Let steep for 10 minutes.
In a clean bowl and using an electric mixer beat egg whites until foamy. Add salt and beat egg whites until they hold sift peaks. Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Beat whites until stiff and glossy.
Carefully spoon egg white mixture into milk in 3 or 4 mounds (about ½ cup each). Allow these to cook in milk for 1 to 2 minutes based on the size of mounds. Turns mounds offer and for another 1 to 2 minutes. With slotted spoon remove mounds from milk and place on a baking sheet covered with paper towel. Do same process 2 or 3 more times. Can be transferred to baking dish lined in parchment or wax paper and held in the refrigerator for up to 3 hours.
Save milk mixture for sauce.
½ cup sugar
¼ cup sugar
Place water and sugar in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat and bring to a boil until syrup is a pale golden brown, occasionally swirling the pan – do not stir. Remove from the heat and allow mixture to cool until thick enough to form ribbons from the tines of a fork (about 8 minutes). If mixture becomes too thick reheat over low heat, stirring constantly until right consistency.
Drip fork in the syrup and wave back and forth over meringues in bowl with sauce.
6 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
Whisk egg yolks and sugar about 2 minutes or until thick. Slowly add milk mixture and put in heavy saucepan. (If there is less than 2 cups of milk mixture add more warm milk before adding eggs) Cook over medium heat until custard thickens – DO NOT BOIL. (Ready when a finger is drawn across the back of the wooden spoon leaves a path) About 9 minutes.
Notice how yellow the egg yolks are. We used fresh and organic eggs from the farmer’s market.
Strain the custard into a small bowl and cover. Can be chilled and stored up to 2 days.
Spoon the custard into a rim soup bowl. Top each bowl with 2 meringues and drizzle with caramel.
The recipe is Tina’s, the fabulous. Katie B took all of the photographs.