The Île Flottante, or Floating Island, is one of those out of fashion - destined for a comeback desserts that can still be found on the menus of classic French bistros and brasseries still hanging onto the tastes and trends of yesteryear. Keep it up. And what's not to love about a fluffy pillow of meringue sitting on top of a rich creme anglaise? Nothing at all. So why not bring this one back into the repertoire?
250ml Milk 250ml Heavy cream 120g Sugar, divided 2 pinches of Salt 1 Vanilla bean 6 Egg yolks
In a small pot, add the milk, cream, half of the sugar, and salt. Using a small paring, cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the insides, Place the bean and seeds in the pot with the liquid. Heat gently on medium heat, stirring in the sugar to dissolve until the mixture is just scalded. In the meantime, in a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk the yolks with the remaining sugar until well combined and lightened in color. When the milk mixture is scalded, remove it from the heat and ladle a little over the yolk while whisking. Add more liquid in stages until it is all combined. Then, pour the mixture back into the pot and using a rubber spatula, heat the mixture to 85C, about 185F, at which point the mixture with thicken and become a crème anglaise. Be sure to continuously mix during this time, so nothing burns to the bottom of the pot. Once you have made your crème anglaise, remove the pot from the heat and strain the crème anglaise into a bowl. Chill over an ice bath or in the fridge.
6 Egg whites
Salt, 1 pinch
Bring several inches of water to boil in a large pot or pan. Once a boil has been reached, reduce the heat so that the water is just at a simmer.
Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to firm peaks on high setting. While the mixer is still running, pour in the sugar and salt and whip to combine. Turn off the mixer and remove the whisk attachment. Scoop large dollops of meringue into the simmering water, careful not to deflate or punch down any of the air in the meringue. Cook each meringue 30-45 seconds on each sides, then remove it from the simmering water using a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate or sheet pan. Continue with the rest of the meringue.
Spoon some of the cooled crème anglaise into the bottom of a bowl, top with a cooked meringue. Many traditional recipes finish with a caramel poured on top, but I prefer candied slivered almonds. The choice is yours.