Food - Drink
Floating Islands: The Whimsical Dessert That's Worth The Effort
By AUTUMN SWIERS
Floating Islands is the name of a dessert that features one or more "islands" of meringue floating in crème anglaise, a vanilla custard sauce. This impressive dish is served chilled and drizzled with caramel, and while the process of making Floating Islands is a bit involved, it only takes about an hour and requires no special equipment.
This modified English version of the French dish "île flottante" is a light, airy dessert paired with caramel, spun sugar, or some form of sugar art, plus garnishes like fresh raspberries, pistachios, and almonds. However, many small steps must be taken to make Floating Islands before you can think about the toppings.
To make Floating Islands, separate egg whites into a bowl and let them come to room temperature; meanwhile, whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and milk in a saucepan until it's thick enough to coat your whisk, without letting it boil. Strain the mix through a sieve into a metal bowl, then stir in vanilla and transfer the bowl to the fridge to set.
Return to the egg whites, add cream of tartar or caster sugar, then beat them with sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form and dollop a few big spoonfuls into a hot saucepan of milk. Poach the meringues over low heat until they're firm enough to hold their shape, then float the islands on top of a sea of the custard sauce you made earlier.