Iles flottantes

Iles flottantes

This is a light dessert as compared to many creams and mousses. The name means "floating islands." This recipe serves six people and should be dished up in rather large, but shallow pedestal cups or snifters. It can be perfumed using Grand Marnier, other liqueurs or extracts.

10 eggs
300 grams granulated sugar
1 litre milk
1 bean vanilla (or real extract)
10 sugar cubes
a few drops of lemon juice

Boil the milk with the vanilla and reduce heat letting the mixture infuse for about ten minutes. Beat the whites of 9 eggs stiff with the lemon and fold in one-third of the granulated sugar.1 Form six meringue ball islands 2 about the size of apples and poach them in the boiling milk about 1 minute per side. The secret to the egg whites' edibility lies in the sugar they contain, making them a lightly-sweetened meringue, and the flavored milk poaching they receive.

Drain the islands in a strainer over a dish returning the milk drippings to the pan. Filter the milk and measure to ensure that ¾ of it remains. In case it is less, add more milk to make ¾ of a litre.

Beat the 9 egg yolks together with the remaining whole egg and the remaining 200 grams of sugar. Stir into the warm milk and put the pan back over low heat stirring and scraping just until a cream forms on the spoon. It is important during this last step not to burn the cream. The resulting cream is thinner (runnier) than American cream pudding.

Pour the cream into the serving bowls and refrigerate. When ready to serve, place an island in each bowl and drizzle some caramel made with the sugar cubes (or equivalent amount of sugar) and a couple of tablespoons of water.

1Alternate Meringue Technique

Over a bain-marie, incorporate sugar into whites before beating. The whites must get warm enough to dissolve the sugar. Once this is done, beat to triple their volume.

2Serving Suggestion

For more elaborate serving, the meringue may be dished out into ramekins and cooked in a shallow water bath in the oven. Later, the crème anglaise may be ladled over each one individually on a plate or the island may be floated in the pudding poured into a large snifter.