Spotting a recipe for floating islands made in a tube pan in Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook reminded me of the Martha Stewart recipe I’d been wanting to try. Her version differed as the meringue was scooped into ovals and poached in hot milk. I took Dorie’s idea of serving them with creme anglaise and caramel sauce and invited friends to join me in the kitchen.
Well, this was not the most beautiful dessert I’ve ever produced…my meringues were not the lovely quenelles that Martha had pictured on her website, although Shelli and I grew more proficient as we practiced. But according to my girlfriends, the results were exquisite. The meringue puffs were sweet and tender…and combined with the caramel and creme anglaise made a showstopper for the palate.
Shelli’s mom used to make these for bridge club, but instead of poaching, she would pipe out gorgeous mounds of meringue and bake them. If I was doing this for company, I’d definitely go that route. Thanks Shelli, Gini and Pam for keeping me company in the kitchen today!
Floating Islands with Creme Anglaise and Caramel Sauce…adapted from a variety of sources
Basic French Meringue…adapted from Martha Stewart Living
6 egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cream of tartar
Splash of vanilla, optional
1 cup plus 2 tablespoon superfine sugar (can make by processing regular sugar for one minute in food processor)
In stand mixer, beat egg whites till foamy. Add salt and cream of tartar. Mix in. Gradually add sugar, with mixer running, one tablespoon at a time till sugar dissolves and stiff peaks form. Mix in vanilla. Use immediately.
Milk Poached Meringues…adapted from Martha Stewart Living
4 cups whole milk
1 cup water
Bring milk and water to simmer in a large saute pan. Reduce heat till liquid steams but does not bubble.
Form meringues by taking two wet spoons and with one, scoop up a mound of meringue. Take second wet spoon with handle pointing the opposite direction from the first, and slide back and forth over top of meringue. The goal is to form a small, neat oval.
Carefully drop meringue oval into the poaching liquid. Repeat, making a few at a time. Poach on one side about 2 1/2 minutes, then flip and poach 2 minutes or till firm to the touch.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer cooked meringues to a plate or silpat lined baking sheet. Repeat till all meringue is used. Should make about 12-30 depending on size of spoon.
Creme Anglaise…adapted from Martha Stewart Living
2 cups half and half
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Prepare an ice water bath (I fill up a sink with cook water and add ice).
In medium saucepan, heat the cream till it just begins to steam. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in large bowl. While whisking the yolk mixture, slowly add about 1/4 cup of the heated cream to temper the yolks. When thoroughly combined, add the rest of the cream. Transfer the yolk mixture back into the pan and cook over low heat, stirring and scraping down sides, till thickened. Strain though fine sieve into bowl and set into ice bath. Stir in vanilla. Chill till ready to serve.
Caramel Sauce…adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Put the sugar, water and corn syrup into a medium saucepan. Cook over medium high heat, swirling the pan, but not stirring until the caramel turns an amber color.
Lower the heat and carefully add cream and butter…standing away from pan to avoid splattering. When bubbling subsides, stir sauce till smooth. Add vanilla. Pour into heatproof jar (I use a Pyrex measuring cup). Cool to warm before serving.
To plate floating islands, pour some creme anglaise into bottom of individual bowl. Add two or three meringues and top with caramel. Serves 4-6.