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by on May 14th, 2012

Floating Island (Eggs in Snow)

Something I definitely wanted to try in France.

So, before heading off for France I found a “must try” food list while in France. Below was my list I was working from and if I managed to try them.

Baguettes (tried many times), croissants (almost daily), cheeses (many different kinds were eaten), charcuterie (had it), foie gras (yes), steak frites (yes), croque monsieur (twice), crepes (suzette of course), fleur de del caramels (yes), and quiche lorraine (twice) were a few of the “must try” things and we made it through the list. We can’t forget macarons (made them twice, had them from Laudree), pates (definitely), rilletes (didn’t, but have made one), duck confit (yes, twice).

Ok, so I have either made a lot of these things or have had them before, but it was so much more fun sitting in some little French bistro or brasierres, trying to translate a menu, watching the people go by and toasting our time in France.

The desserts were beautiful (see some of the window shots I got of bakeries). I knew I wanted to try Floating Island and sure enough it showed up on a menu our second night in Paris. A guy next to me ordered it and I looked at it and said “floating island”??? and he said yes. I knew I had to order it. Their meringue was done differently and was baked and then cut into large wedges.

Floating island is a French dessert (they call it Eggs in Snow) consisting of meringue puffs floating on a pool of crème anglaise. The meringues are made of whipped egg whites, sugar and vanilla extract that are quickly poached in water or milk. (I did these in water, but will use milk the next time.)

I don’t know about you but I never like my refrigerators (I have three) to be without milk, cream, butter or my pantry to be without flour, yeast, sugar or vanilla. You can make almost any dessert or breads from those ingredients; so I don’t think we will ever starve in this house.

This dessert is such a recipe. A little egg, cream, sugar and you have a wonderful little dessert which looks so elegant served in a martini glass.

Beat egg whites to soft peak then slowly start adding in the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Poaching egg whites.

Cook slowly until lightly caramel color. Be careful, I cooked mine too lone and it got hard on me.

Floating Island

The Meringue:
4 egg whites
6 Tbsp. sugar
pinch of salt
1 3/4 c. milk (or poach in water)

Fill a large pot 3/4 full of water (some recipes call for poaching the whites in hot milk. If using milk use 1 3/4 cups) and bring to a boil. While the water (or milk) is coming to a boil, beat the egg whites and salt until they form soft peaks. Slowly add the sugar and continue to beat the egg whites until they are very stiff.

Turn the burner down to reduce the water to a simmer. Spoon out large spoonfuls of the egg whites and slide each into simmering water. Poach for about 2 minutes and then turn with a slotted spoon. Poach on other side for another 4 minutes.

Remove poached egg whites from water, drain on paper towels and set aside until ready to use. If the meringues are prepared more than 1 hour before serving, refrigerate uncovered.

I have a friend who was raised in Indiana and her mom use to make this dessert. She said her mom never poached the whites and just put a big puffy cloud of meringue into each bowl of custard sauce. So you can try both ways.

Custard Sauce:

4 egg yolks
1/4 c. sugar
pinch of salt
2 c. whole milk (or part cream)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. lemon rind, grated fine

Beat the egg yolks slightly, then add the sugar and salt. Scald the milk and slowly add to the egg mixture whisking constantly to prevent yolks from curdling. Place the custard in a double boiler (or a heat proof bowl set on top of a saucepan of simmering water) and stir until it begins to thicken and coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add the vanilla and lemon rind. Chill thoroughly until ready to use. This is to a firm custard but a sauce. Do not let the sauce come to a boil or it will curdle. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

These egg whites were not poached but just dropped into the custard and served. You see recipes made both ways.

Caramel Sauce

1 c. sugar
1/2 c. water

Combine the sugar and water in heavy saucepan. Stir well and then heat until the sugar is dissolved. Incfrease heat to a boil, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush to dissolve any sugar crystals.) Boil until syrup is a pale golden color, about 6 minutes. Do not stir while it is boiling because it may crystallize. Remove from heat and cool slightly. If it becomes too thick before you assemble your dessert, rewarm slightly over low heat, stirring constantly.)

To assemble the floating island: pour some of the custard sauce into a deep dessert plate (something like a pasta bowl). Float a poached meringue on each pool of custard. Dip a fork into the caramel sauce, drizzle a web of the sauce over the meringues.

Serves 4-6

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