12 May 2013

Ile flottante aka Floating Island

A dessert post for a change and a classic amongst my childhood favourites : île flottante or floating island, which is the literal translation and according to wiki also the correct English name.

This dessert is sold ready made in the supermarkets, straight out of the factory. Heck, even Weight Watchers has commercialised its own version of this classic, although you'll have to go to France to score them.  Even in Belgium, these "light" WW versions are hard to find.

An île flottante is basically a meringue island floating on a see of vanilla custard, drizzled with caramel.  Sounds plain and simple?  It is. Tastes just as plain?  Oh no, way better :o)

If you feel like it and don't mind the extra dishes, you can make the caramel yourself by melting 100g of toffees with a dash of cream, but sometimes it isn't necessary to reinvent the wheel and a storebought flask of caramel will do just fine. Although having a bottle of caramel won't do any good, if you forget to pour it on top of the dessert ... as I did.  But anyway, ...

Ingredients for the custard

* 0.5 L milk
* 4 egg yolks
* 150 g sugar
* 1 vanilla pod
Preparation  :
Pour the milk into a pot and heat on medium fire.

Cut the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape the seeds out, before adding seeds and pod halves to the milk.
Separate the eggs and set aside the egg whites
Add the yolks to the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk them lightly.  Add the sugar and whisk it together on high speed for a few minutes until you have a whitish and airy mass.
Remove the bowl from your stand mixer, add a dash of warm milk to the sugary yolks and whish it together manually.  Pour this mixture into your pot of hot milk and whisk it. (Don't forget to remove the halved pods).

Let the custard thicken on medium fire, all the while stirring it with a spoon to prevent it from burning.

Once you have achieved the required thickness, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Ingredients for the meringue

* 4 egg whites
* 6 tbsp of powdered sugar
* 100 cl milk
 * 1 vanilla pod
Preparation :

Meringues making requires a grease free bowl, so make sure your mixing bowl is spotless.  If need be, some lemon juice on a paper towel is an easy and powerful grease remover.
Pour the milk in a pot and heat it on medium fire almost to boiling point.  Add the vanilla pod so it can infuse the milk with its flavours.

Take the eggwhites you set aside earlier and whisk it at high speed in your stand mixer's mixing bowl until you have a firm snowy white foam.  Reduce to low speed and add the sugar to the meringue, until all of the sugar has been absorbed.

The meringue is now ready to be poached  in the hot milk. Make dumplings and let them poach for approximately two minutes on each side in the milk.

Just before serving, put a spoonful of the cooled custard in a plate, dress with one or two egg white dumplings and drizzle some caramel over it.

PS. You don't have to throw the milk away after use.  I passed the milk through a sieve to remove any lump of egg white, which might have been left behind and put it in the fridge.  Ice cold vanilla infused milk is delicious on cereal :o)


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