• Isles Flotant – Oeuf a la neige (Floating Islands)

    A nice fluffy, creamy, and crunchy combination of textures in one dish. A very sweet but light tasting desert.

    “Isles flotant” comprises French meringue, crème anglais (English custard), and spun sugar. The French meringue simply consists of sugar and egg whites beaten together. Crème anglais is so named because there is no name in French for custard. In fact, I know a few French people that would completely deny its existence. And the sugar work is quite tricky, but in theory it’s just heated sugar melted over a dish, or twirled around a steel (for example).


    What you will need:



    • 2 wooden spoons
    • 2 large metal tablespoons
    • A large mixing bowl
    • An electric mixer with a whisk attachment
    • A large but wide saucepan
    • A medium sized saucepan
    • A slotted spoon
    • A wire rack


    Ingredients:



    • 2 pints (1100ml) milk (split into two 1 pint (550ml) portions)
    • 4 eggs
    • 360g caster sugar
    • A flat teaspoon of vanilla paste


    Method:



    • Separate the eggs so you have 4 yolks and 4 whites
    • Beat the egg yolks in your mixing bowl with 140g of the caster sugar until it has combined
    • Bring 1 pint of the milk just to boil in your medium sized saucepan
    • Add the vanilla paste and stir in, immediately turn the temperature down and take off the hob (“stove”) if needed to stop the boil
    • Return to the hob and simmer until hot but not boiling
    • While constantly whisking gently, add the milk/vanilla mix to the eggs and sugar slowly bit by bit
    • Put the mix back in the medium saucepan at a lower heat (30% of the maximum) and keep stirring until you have a thickened custard (I like it to be thick enough so it causes a little resistance when stirring)
    • Take the crème anglais/custard off the hob and set to one side
    • Take the other pint of milk and bring up to simmering heat, and then add 10g caster sugar and let dissolve into the warm milk for a minute
    • Beat your 4 egg whites with your electric whisk until they start to turn a little white
    • Add 140g of the caster sugar to the mix and whisk again until sharp white peaks are formed. At this point, if you’re brave you could do the “hold bowl over your head” to test that they’re firm enough. I don’t recommend this though!
    • You now need to create quenelles using the two metal spoons to create an oblate type shape
    • Place each quenell into the poaching milk solution and leave to cook for about 5 or 6 minutes using the slotted spoon
    • Again, using your slotted spoon take the cooked meringue out of the milk and place on the wire rack to dry for 5 minutes
    • Empty the rest of your sugar into a small saucepan and evenly spread it over the base, put on a medium temperature
    • Serve the crème anglais in bowls, and gently place the meringues on top (keep an eye on the sugar)
    • Wait for the sugar to melt (keep stirring, you don’t want it to burn or stick): first it will turn white, then eventually you’ll get to a nice light brown colour. At this point turn off the heat and take the pan off the hob. Place it somewhere safe.
    • Immediately take a wooden spoon and pick up a “glob” of the melted sugar/caramel and just gently let move it back and forth in a zig-zag pattern over the meringues
    • Leave the sugar to solidify for two minutes before eating


    Hopefully you will be left with something similar to the picture below: