Simply eating

Sweet: Îles flottantes/Floating islands

This recipe is dedicated to my mom,  not because it is a complicated French classic, but cause this is my favourite dessert and she struggled so much in communism to get the simple ingredients that we take nowadays for granted. Finding all 3 of them (milk, eggs, sugar) was the equivalent of Hercules’ labours but she did it every time 🙂

Floating islands

Ingredients for 4 portions:

  • 1 liter milk (normally it is done with full fat milk, I prefer semi skimmed because it is not as heavy)
  • 80g+40g sugar (I use organic sugar because it is not so sweet as caster sugar, just a matter of taste, but if you prefer to use that one then the same quantities apply)
  • 4 eggs
  • 45g icing sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • couple drops of lemon juice
  • pinch of salt (for the islands)
  • food mixer
  • baking paper (not kitchen towels)

Cooking time: 20 mins for the creme anglaise (aka custard) but you need to let it cool down 4-6 hours minimum before you can serve it, 30 mins to create the islands, but they can’t be prepared in advance. So timing is crucial with this one.

Preparation: Nothing for this recipe.


Creme anglaise – custard

This is not a difficult process, but you really need to cook by the rules, because otherwise it will curdle and you have to start from scratch. Put half liter of the milk to boil together with the vanilla seeds and the pod (make sure you keep an eye on it). Separate the 4 egg yolks from the egg whites. Mix the egg yolks with 80g sugar in a bowl. Once the milk has boiled, remove the vanilla pod and add the milk mixture slowly to the eggs+sugar mixture. Be very careful to add the liquid slowly and to continuously stir. Once you have incorporated the whole  milk in the eggs, you just have to put the mixture back into the pan and on the heat (but very very low temperature). You need to keep on stirring and in about 5 mins it will start to thicken. Not much, but more the consistency of cream. Once it has that consistency, then you can put it first aside for a few minutes to cool down, and later add it to the fridge for a few hours (it will get even thicker after that). You really need to make sure the  liquid will never simmer. Once it will do that it means it has split so you will have to restart all over again.

Meringue islands 

With the remaining egg whites, we need to make the fluffy/floating islands. Always make sure the egg whites are at room temperature before you start whisking them. So start with all 4 of them, add a few drops of the lemon juice, the pinch of salt and start whisking till is hard. Add the milk with one spoon of sugar on the heat, but on a low temperature. Slowly incorporate the the icing sugar (make sure there are no lumps in it, if needed, please sift it) to the mixture.  Once the mixture is done, we will need to poach the islands.  It sounds scarier than it actually is. All you need to do is to take a big metal spoon (not wood/plastic) and get big lumps of the meringue and drop them into the milk. Depending on how big they are they need about 2-3 mins on each side. So you only need to flip them one time. Once they are done you can remove from the pot them and add on the paper. Usually for 4 egg whites you have two do 2 rounds of islands. If you need to do double the quantity, then you will have to change the milk  after the second round (so still 500ml every time).

Dry caramel

This part is optional, and I discovered it much later, when I had the “original” version in Paris. I think the caramel actually brings a third dimension to the dish. So the way to do it is:  just melt the 40g of sugar in a frying pan (no water needed, that is why it is called a dry caramel) and keep on mixing it until there are no more lumps and the caramel has melted (be careful, caramel can burn quite quickly so keep an eye on it at all time). I have used organic sugar which is quite brownish, but if you use caster sugar, then your caramel will be more transparent and more visually appealing to guests. Once the caramel is finished, you need to decorate the islands with it. You can use a bit of caramel or more. I prefer to use more 🙂

Serve the dish by adding the meringues on top of the custard. This is a dish to be served by several people, but be careful it is very addictive and quite heavy 


1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

Lapte de pasăre? Yummy.

Comment by vax-albina

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