Floating Islands or Îles Flottantes: A classic, melt in your mouth French poached meringue served with crème anglaise and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

These elegant meringue canelles are bathed in a sweet custard sauce and make for a scrumptious, impressive dessert!

Floating Islands or Îles Flottantes in a white bowl topped with caramel sauce and raspberries


Floating Islands or Îles Flottantes

Floating Islands or Îles Flottantes is a dessert I attempted early in my blog. Poaching canelles of meringue in milk was definitely daunting…and my perfectionist tendencies when baking were rattled that day. Dorie’s oven version is much less intimidating…and per usual, her step by step instructions were invaluable.

Instead of individual servings, her meringue is baked in a 9 inch springform pan, then sliced in wedges. I took her cue and baked vs poached, but used individual ramekins instead of a large dish. Though, in retrospect, the single meringue would have been easier to unmold. But this recipe drew high fives across the board; even Katie, my pickiest, devoured her own serving. Plated over crème anglaise, drizzled with caramel and garnished with berries, who could resist their own meringue island???

Floating Islands or Îles Flottantes served in a bowl


How to Make Floating Islands

Since I was experimenting, I made just half a recipe, using 3 egg whites which filled and mounded four  1/2-cup capacity ramekins perfectly. I baked these meringues in a water bath, or bain marie, for 15 minutes. See the instructions for this version in the notes section of the recipe below.

The ramekins were well buttered and sugared and released with a bit of nudging. Dorie also recommended serving these îles with chocolate ice cream and even hot fudge sauce instead of caramel. This is one circumstance that none of the chocoholics griped about the lack of deep, dark decadence garnishing their dessert. Mine floated in the dreamy crème anglaise with a mere drizzle of caramel. Alas, I should have baked up a full batch of these elegant floating islands. Next time.

PRO-Tip: Did you know that you can use melted, premium vanilla ice cream as a crème anglaise substitution? It’s a delicious, EASY hack!

Floating Islands or Îles Flottantes in bowls filled with creme anglaise

For tips on how to make the perfect meringue, check out my Tips on Making the Perfect Meringue Cookies. They apply to Floating Islands, too.

More Meringue Recipes You’ll Love:

The International Food Bloggers Conference

Many of the bloggers I’ve been posting with on Fridays for nearly 3 years will finally be meeting in person at the International Food Blogger Conference next month. Dorie Greenspan is the keynote speaker and was an integral force in getting us fired up and registered for this event!

The e-mails have been flying back and forth and even Ms. Greenspan has chimed in! Our group will get a chance to meet our cooking mentor who has inspired us week after week. I can hear the squeals of excitement when we all finally meet. The IFBC was actually the FIRST ever food blogger conference, debuting in 2009 and there will be over 300 attendees this year.

I’m sharing a recipe I used originally used, but Dorie’s recipe can be found in her cookbook, Around My French Table.  I used half this meringue recipe, divided it between 4 buttered and sugared ramekins, and baked in a water bath for 12-15 minutes at 350º till a toothpick inserted in the center came out clean. I used Dorie’s Crème Anglaise recipe and my microwave caramel sauce for finishing off this ambrosial dessert.


Floating Islands or Îles Flottantes in a white bowl topped with caramel sauce and raspberries

Floating Islands or Îles Flottantes

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Yield 6 servings

An elegant, French dessert with meringue canelles floating in creme anglasie and topped with caramel sauce.


Basic French Meringue

  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • Splash of vanilla, optional
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar (can make by processing regular sugar for one minute in food processor)

Poaching Liquid

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup water

Creme Anglaise

  • 2 cups half and half
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Caramel Sauce

  • 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


To make meringues, beat egg whites till foamy in a stand mixer.  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.

To poach the meringues, 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.

To make creme anglaise, first 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.

To make caramel sauce, 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.


Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart and Dorie Greenspan.

Dorie poaches her meringues, but for the version pictured, I mounded the meringue into greased ramekins and baked in a water bath for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 931Total Fat: 46gSaturated Fat: 28gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 401mgSodium: 349mgCarbohydrates: 106gFiber: 0gSugar: 105gProtein: 22g

You will not need all the creme anglase or caramel sauce, so calorie count will be less.


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