Isles Flottant, or Floating Islands

Floating Islands are a wonderful mix of texture: light meringue, rich crème anglaise and crunchy spun sugar.  A simple and elegant dessert, they can be tricky to make but well worth the effort!

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Îles Flottantes

In the interest of full-disclosure I’ll tell you, my first attempt at Floating Islands went a little sideways. I had decided to patch together two different recipes from memory to see if I could pull this off “free-hand”…

In the end, I did okay but not perfect. An old friend’s voice kept ringing in my head: “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Wise words. An unrepentant Type-A personality, I try and remind myself of this often.

More importantly, my Floating Islands tasted amazing so who really cares about perfect anyway?

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These are the ingredients I used (with notes about where I think I may have gone wrong).

  • 4 eggs, separated (the whites are for the meringue, the yolks are for the Crème Anglaise)
  • 70 g of superfine sugar (this is for the meringue, and I think I should have used 100g)
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp. Vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of superfine sugar (for the spun sugar topping)

 

Crème Anglaise and Poached Meringues

Pour the vanilla and equal parts milk and heavy whipping cream in a low, wide saucepan. Heat until just under simmering. It should be hot but not boiling.

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The vanilla made a beautiful star pattern as I poured in the cream! How cool is that!?

In a mixer, whip the egg whites, gradually adding superfine sugar until stiff. I added 70g, as I said, but I think I should have added more (100g?).

Once whipped, the meringue should be stiff enough to turn upside-down without coming out of the bowl. As you can see, mine was, but I think it should have been even stiffer still.  

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Upside down meringue

Use two large spoons to form the meringue into four to six quinelles. To get a clean, smooth shape, it helps to dip your spoons frequently into a glass or bowl of water.

Drop your quinelles into the hot milk to poach them.

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Method #1: Poaching with steam

The first method I tried recommended I cover my saucepan and steam the meringue for NINE minutes to fully cook them. “Do not take the lid off for NINE minutes!!!

I was so good and I waited the full nine minutes. I could see them through the glass lid puffing up and looking so beautiful! I waited and waited….

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They looked so perfect! At least briefly….

Then I lifted the lid and…. Flop. They absolutely deflated. And so did I.

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Such sad little meringues. But the dog liked them.

Damn. When at first you don’t succeed…

Luckily, I still had more meringue to play with so I made four more quinelles and went for method #2.

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Method #2: poaching both sides uncovered (top sides)

I slid them gently from my spoon into the hot milk, just like the first time, but left them uncovered. I let them poach for two minutes then, very carefully, turned them and poached the other side for two minutes.

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bottom sides

My second try came out way better than the first, but the first method would probably work fine, too (if I had added more sugar to the meringue).  I think that must be where I went wrong… not making my meringue stiff enough in the beginning.

Even Batch #2 came out a little smaller than I would have liked but, again, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”

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Batch #2: good enough.

So, whatever they look like, love them and use a slotted spoon to transfer your meringues onto a wire rack to cool.

To finish the Crème Anglaise, whip the egg yolks in a mixer and gradually add the remainder of the poaching liquid. Blend fully, then pour the mix through a sieve back into the warm saucepan over low/medium heat.

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Keep it a bit runny and thin

Stir gently until the Crème Anglaise just coats the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat and set aside, covered.

Spun sugar!

Prepare by setting out a really big piece of parchment paper. You can also wrap a rolling pin in parchment paper, too, for forming the sugar. Actually, you can use just about anything, as long as you don’t mind cleaning it later.

Pour 1 cup of superfine sugar in a saucepan set on medium/high heat until the sugar melts, turns a golden caramel and bubbles slightly. It should be thick but still “liquidy”.

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Meet my little friend.

Use a fork or whisk to sling sugar strands all over the place. The more free-wheeling you sling it, the thinner strands you’ll have.

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Strands, bits and blobs of sugar

I think I may be too Type-A to make spun sugar well. When you do it right, it’s a mess. I did it only kind-of right, and it was still a mess.

My goal was fragile, fine sugar nests which call for a wilder, crazier whipping motion.  I don’t wants ants in my kitchen, so I kept mine within the bounds of my parchment and came out with random strands and bits. I think it’s a judgment call about how long you want to spend cleaning your kitchen afterward.

Plating

Pour an even layer of Crème Anglaise onto a shallow serving dish and gently float the Islands on top. Decorate with spun sugar bits (or nests, if you’re brave!).

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Creamy and light with a slight crunch. Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

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About Gretacooks

Foodie and Artist. See my food here! See my mixed media art @ www.glatchford.com
This entry was posted in Mousse, Souffle, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Isles Flottant, or Floating Islands

  1. Lisa Latchford says:

    😊❤️

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

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