Easter Lunch highlight #1 - French Floating Islands


Floating islands ( Île flottante) is a very delicate and easy to prepare French dessert. No baking involved, just poached meringue islands floating in a velvety, hassle free stirred custard sauce called Crème anglaise (English Cream- good old custard !!!!) . Drizzle caramel all over and your sweet note is ready for presentation. Custard can be made ahead and chilled, but meringue needs to stay outside to keep its shape. Though making and plating of this dessert is simple, there is still room for creativity. Poach spoonfuls of whipped whites to make freeform islands, or make elegant shapes using a pastry bag and icing tip. Either way it looks beautiful. If you are not quite a plain custard aficionado, flavor it with a liquor of your choice, or add a few drops of your favorite flavor extract.

Recipe

Meringue islands
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup (200 grams) superfine granulated white sugar
In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment beat egg whites on low-medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites until it hold soft peaks. Add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. Simmer 3 cups of water. Drop spoonfuls of meringue into the simmering water to make freeform islands. You could use pastry bag fitted with a wide opening tip to make more uniform shapes. Cook for 2-3 min, turning the islands once in between. Keep at room temperature till serving.

Creme Anglaise

2 cups of Fresh milk
4 egg yolks
½ cup of granulated sugar
Add sugar to milk, and boil with constant stirring. Whip egg yolks until they are light and frothy. Pour half of the boiling milk to the beaten yolks and stir vigorously. Fold the yolk mixture to the boiling milk. Cook the milk / yolk mixture stirring constantly across the bottom of the pan on a medium heat. Stop cooking when the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Quickly transfer the pan to a cold water bath to finish cooking. Strain, and refrigerate, stirring every twenty minutes for the first one hour.

Caramel

Heat 3 tsp sugar mixed with 3 tsp water in a thick bottomed pan, Stir with a wooden spoon till the mixture thickens and acquires a golden brown color.

Assembly

On a shallow dessert plate, spoon some Crème anglaise, and top with a meringue island. Spoon caramel over the meringue and serve decorated with fresh mint leaves and optionally, slivered almonds.

Notes
I used a custard recipe I had for a long long time, and since I have used 4 egg yolks for cream, decided to do the meringue with 4 whites. You could make this recipe richer, by substituting ½ cup milk with heavy cream. Vanilla bean is often added to Crème anglaise as a basic ingredient. This is one good recipe to show off your stock of fresh eggs and milk.

14 comments:

sailu said...

Archana you'd put a professional baker/chef to shame.Lovely picture and nice recipe!
Happy Easter!

RP said...

You got the talent Archana! I love to look at beautifuuly plated desserts(and of course, I would like to have some too).

archana said...

Thank you Sailu,you did inspire me with your kind words.

archana said...

Hi RP,
Wish i could send you some through email. Thank you for your nice comment.
Archana

Radhika said...

That looks Yummy Archana ! I share same thoughts as Sailu.

archana said...

Thanks a lot Radhika.
Archana

Santhi said...

U have got some lovely recipes here lady...
Kudos to you...

archana said...

Thank you for coming in Santhi.
Archana

Saffron said...

archana, that's a lovely recipe. I loved the flowers on the cake in the earlier post.

thanks for visiting my blog. You had a question about the sidebar. Can you send me an email at saffronhut@hotmail.com. That way I can send you a detailed response.

cheers and happy blogging!

RP said...

Archana, I came up with this website while browsing & thought you might be interested.
http://www.mikesamazingcakes.com/personal.html

archana said...

Thanks a lot for sending in the link RP, i appreciate it a lot. I have always been a steady fan of Mike McCarey's work, and OMG is always what i have to say,everytime i see a new addition in the site. Please do let me know whenever you find some interesting cake links, i am sure that there are plenty of extreme talents hiding all over the web. Thanks again..
Archana

wheresmymind said...

That looks precious! I wish my wife dug meringue

sandhya said...

hi archana,
u r dishes look very yummy. could u please tell me if thr is any substitute for cream of tartar. In some of your dishes you have used whipping cream can i used whipped cream instead of that, does that make a difference.

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