Floating Island (Ile Flottante)
This is a classic French dessert that I try to never miss when I am in France. You find it anywhere, high end, casual, family restaurants, it’s part of the French culinary vocabulary. It looks complicated but in fact is quite easy to prepare and the nice thing is that you can prepare it in advance and assemble at serving time. This dessert is made with a meringue that you cook in barely simmering water for a few minutes on each side. It’s important not to let the water get too hot or the meringue will puff up and then fall. The correct temperature is about 180℉.
I made this recently for a dinner party at home and although some of the guests experienced it for the first time I believe that it was an interesting dessert to serve, a little out of the ordinary yet not completely unfamiliar in terms of flavours and textures. I also prepared spun sugar to decorate the dessert but would you believe that I forgot about the spun sugar and served the dessert without it? All I can say is OYE. The remnants of the spun sugar are seen in these images. I just refused to let it all go to waste and used it now even though it had melted from its original fluffy glory. Don’t tell anyone. If you want to make spun sugar yourself check my post about it here. It’s a bit of an undertaking but not really difficult.
For this dessert you need a custard cream and a caramel. The custard cream is easy to make and can be made in advance. For the caramel, if you are looking for shortcuts then you can buy it from a good source. In our area Bernard Callebaut Chocolatier make lovely caramel that you can buy and use, perhaps thinned a little with cream. Same with the caramelized hazelnuts. Make your own on buy from a good source.
My photography courses are coming to an end in a couple of weeks. They have consumed my time and attention in the past couple of months. You know how it is about learning. The more you know the more you understand how much more there is to learn. Being the eternal student that I am I will probably continue to train in this field and I hope the results will, in time, show themselves in these posts.
Tourists season is upon us here in the valley and I would like to write about what is there to do, see, taste and drink around here. There is no shortage of interesting things to do and it’s a matter of narrowing it down to a few favourites. I will think of some posts that you may find interesting and will start featuring them here again. For more about the Okanagan you can check my Okanagan section under Travel here.
In the meantime, go to your famers market, support your local producers of food and wine and enjoy the bounty of your region. If you have something to tell us about I would love to hear from you on this blog.
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk (not skim)
1 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cream
1 cup caramel
1 cup caramelized hazelnuts, chopped in food processor to medium ground
Fill an 8 cup pot with water and bring to 180℉.
In a stand mixer beat the egg whites until stiff and glossy (but not dry).
Add the sugar in a steady stream and continue beating for 10 seconds, not more.
Use an oval ice cream scoop or two spoons to scoop oval shape portions into the simmering water. Don’t over crowd them in the pot, cook 2-3 at a time max (I usually work with two pots at once).
Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip over gently and cook on the other side.
Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate and continue until you use up all the meringue.
Split the vanilla bean in half.
Pour the milk into a saucepan, add the vanilla bean and bring to a boil. Let cool while you prepare the yolks.
Beat the egg yolks with a whisk until they are pale and thickened.
Pour about half cup of the hot milk into the yolks and mix, then add the yolks into the hot milk and whisk.
Cook the milk-egg mixture over low heat stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Do not overheat as the eggs would curdle.
Remove from heat and stir in the cream to thin the sauce to a creamy consistency.
Strain the sauce through a strainer to make sure there are no solid pieces in it.
Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Assembling the dishes:
Use shallow bowls for this dish.
Pour the creme Anglaise into the individual dessert bowl (about 1/2 cup).
Place 2 meringues in each plate over top of the creme Anglaise.
Drizzle with the caramel.
Sprinkle the chopped caramelized nuts over everything.