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

Floating Islands or Îles Flottantes

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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

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

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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.

Notes

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:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

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.

HOW MUCH DID YOU LOVE THIS RECIPE?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

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68 comments on “Floating Islands or Îles Flottantes”

  1. Gorgeous presentation and that caramel drizzle looks divine!

  2. this classic fresh dessert is quite tricky to make…
    i sometimes forget to add more milk while boilling the floating island..hehehe
    the bottom of floating island someties got charred…

  3. Your single serve floating islands look amazing – that caramel sauce has my mouth watering.

  4. Fabulous, Lizzy! Simply fabulous!

  5. Your dessert is beautiful and it sounds like you have a fun trip coming up! Happy Labor Day Weekend-enjoy:@)

  6. They are so pretty Liz – I love the addition of the raspberries!

  7. Liz, these are just gorgeous! Your food always looks so clean and elegant, even if you don’t really like what it is you have made (as in a couple of the TWD posts I’ve seen). So glad that this was a home run, and I am wholeheartedly behind the caramel sauce for presentation–that delicate meringue could get lost in rich fudge sauce.

    Have a wonderful time at the conference meeting so many TWD friend, and Dorie herself!

  8. I’d be too scared to try! I’ll just eat instead….

    🙂

  9. They look great and tasted great too!

  10. This is the first thing I order when I visit Paris. I make it at home but something about eating it there makes me squeal. and crepes or roasted chestnuts bought from a street vendor.

    I haven’t made illes flottante in quite a while. My father-in-law will love me tomorrow!

  11. I love your scaled back version! I will definitely go the ramekin route when I get around making these.

  12. These are soooo pretty and fancyyyyy!

  13. Individual islands, they look so ridiculously cute Liz! And I’m glad you added raspberries (not that I’m surprised..ja!), because they need a color boost, and some acidity to counter all that sweetness. Stunning my friend!

  14. Absolutely delicious and gorgeous photography Liz!

  15. Oh, so beautiful! Ramekins! Such a good idea!

    Since I didn’t have a small springform pan (and was going to make a half recipe), I did the poaching thing. But the one thing I thought was missing was that beautiful toasted crust (exactly like yours!) 🙂

  16. This is one of those classic desserts that I’ve always heard about but never actually tasted or even seen on a restaurant menu. It looks amazing!

  17. A lovely dessert! Looks so delicous and yummy!
    Have fun at the conference, how exciting to be able to meet Dorie!

  18. I will be at IFBC too…see you there!!

  19. Love the raspberry and caramel additions. They’re gorgeous, and definitely sound delicious. Glad you all enjoyed this one!

  20. This is a divine dessert, so elegant. Love to know there is a less daunting way to make it. Wow cool have fun at the conference!

  21. Beautiful! You did a fantastic job.

  22. Liz, your version looks very elegant and decadent at the same time – I am glad that we all seem to really enjoy this classic French dessert recipe because it is a wonderful recipe – I also chose the baked individual ramekin route.
    Have a great Friday!

  23. Such a lovely, classy looking dessert, Liz! Great job!

  24. I really love the mini ramekin version – it makes me “want” to add some smaller springform pans to my collection.

    Very much looking forward to Seattle. Three weeks 🙂

  25. I can tell you’re a perfectionist! I am in some ways, but not all ways…I’ve relaxed a lot in my older age. 😉 Lovely dessert as per usual, Liz. Have a great weekend in your neck of the woods!

  26. The first time I saw Îles Flottantes was in France this summer and my first thought was, “That looks delicious but I am NOT making that!” Your description made it sound like something I could try. Not saying I’d nail it the first time but I’d sure give it a try. Beautiful work!

    I hope the rain holds off while you are here so you don’t have the full Seattle effect! 🙂

  27. Oh my, Liz! I’d like my own meringue island. There’s no denying individual ramekins add time to plating a dessert, but I’ll be the first to admit it makes me feel like I’m having my own indulgence—the kind that doesn’t have to be shared. The perfection you seek was signed, sealed and delivered.

  28. These were truly wonderful and yours look gorgeous, Liz! I can see why they were a hit with your family! Looking forward to meeting you and your Bill in Seattle! It should be a fun time!

  29. I’ve wanted to try Iles Flottantes for the longest time. It sounds so good with the caramel. I have to move this up the to-try list!

  30. How exciting that you’ll get to go to that conference Liz! And these floating islands look heavenly. So light and creamy. Thank you for sharing them!

  31. Dear Lizzy Floating Islands isone of my favorites desserts and this you look delicious! xoxoxo

  32. This is floating goodness…I’d be quite excited to devour it!!! have a great holiday weekend, Liz!

  33. Querida Liz es mi postre favorito ha hecho una buena versión,hugs,hugs.

  34. Love this dessert… it looks so pretty. 🙂 The conference sounds great… Seattle is a wonderful city. It’s nice you can sneak in a visit with your sister too. 🙂

    PS… Dorie Greenspan as the keynote speaker… how cool!

  35. Lizzy, your Floating Island is spectacular…just adore the caramel sauce drizzle, and the fresh raspberries. Such an elegant dessert that I haven’t made in decades. So rich, creamy, fluffy egg whites like ‘floating mini clouds’!

    So happy and jealous at the same time that you get to go to this exciting food conference and actually meet Dorie! At least you get to visit with your sister and bring Bill and Katie along for great company…how SWEET! xoxo

  36. Liz I can see why even your pickiest eater liked this one. Delightful floating islands drizzled in caramel sauce is way over the top.

  37. I really love your individual servings- awesome idea for the ramekins. The 9 ” spring form was pretty easy indeed but I love the individual ones even better. And perfect pairing with the raspberries – I had actually told my husband that I was surprised Dorie suggested caramel and chocolate….I had pictured raspberries instead. Next time !!

  38. Thank you for your post, Liz. My wait for my husband’s Einstein drink at Whole Foods sped by as I was transported to the magical creations concocted in the kitchen of Chez Liz. As always, your tips are superb and the dessert divine.

    How wonderful that you get to meet/interact with the American goddess of cookbooks – Ms Dorie Greenspan in Seattle. The husband needs help with his MeetUp and my brother will be visiting from Brazil during the conference. So, we’ll just have to meet each other another time =)

  39. Looks like a little decadence to me Liz. The bloggers conference sounds like a lot of fun. Maybe one of these days I’ll get to go to one. Of course, I’ll be watching for a post on it!

  40. A classy dessert! It looks so nice. I am in love with it.

  41. This is such an elegant dessert! Glad you are going to get to meet Dorie!

  42. This looks like a lovely dessert. The bloggers conference should be so much fun for you. I am sure it will be exciting to meet face to face with your fellow Fridays With Dorie blogger friends.

  43. Drizzle caramel on this elegant dessert is to die for, IFBC sound exciting and fun,Liz !

  44. Yes, I too have discovered that the poaching method is not for me. Your individual baked version looks perfect and I will be going in that direction next time.

  45. What a lovely presentation of one of my favorite desserts. I’ve only had the poached kind and am looking forward to trying your 1/2 recipe that is baked.

  46. Absolutely delicious looking presentation. The caramel sauce and raspberries make it
    perfect.

  47. –OMgosh,
    these are ridiculously divine & elegant. xx

  48. Gorgeous as usual! Love the bowls you used also – any chance they still make that pattern? Wish I could meet everyone in Seattle – we have the 3rd surgery on the 20th, but I will anxiously be looking forward to reading everyone’s experiences!

  49. Dear Liz, Your dessert looks terrific. You are perfection in your baking! Everything always looks beautiful and delicious.
    Have fun a the Bloggers Conference. Blessings dearest and a hug, Catherine xo

  50. We used to have these after Sunday Night Church when we went to visit some friends of my parents – I love them and since I never understood cooking per se, I forgot about them until now. Thanks so much! I hope this will be one that I’m pinning later!

  51. Looks very impressive! And all thumbs up! That’s great. I’m the only one who will eat this here, but haven’t actually made this one yet. Maybe this weekend. Looking forward to meeting you in Seattle!

  52. Simply beautiful – that’s a lot of work – love the addition of the raspberries
    Mary x

  53. Beautiful dessert and how much fun to meet and discuss with Dorie. I can’t wait to read all about it here.

  54. I am diving into the Îles Flottantes this coming week and your comments and instructions coupled with Dories will be invaluable. Your presentation was beautiful and I can imagine that your whole family also inquired as to why you didn’t make the whole recipe. Nice job. I look forward to meeting you and your entire family in Seattle.

  55. oh my gosh, how beautiful and sophisticated! have fun at the conference! I absolutely love Seattle!

  56. I always thought this dessert was strange when I was studying abroad in Paris. I never tried one.

  57. Lizzy,
    The dessert looks so lovely, almost to pretty to eat. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the conference in Seattle.
    Annamaria

  58. I hope you enjoy the conference. It sounds like it will be very worthwhile. I do love the look of your floating islands and I can imagine there were no complaints from anyone – who doesn’t like meringue! These look so pretty; they would be perfect for entertaining xx

  59. Those truly look like little islands floating in the Crème Anglaise. Lovely!

  60. We saw these all over the menus in Paris but never had it.. Too many desserts, so little time. =(

    Gotta make these.. i know we would love them

  61. I was so excited to see this on your blog, I had attempted to make this daunting dessert a couple of years ago and failed so miserably that I didn’t even bother to post it. My dear Mom used to make this regularly (called Madár Tej or Bird’s Milk in Hungarian). I will definitely attempt it again with Dorie’s baking method for sure! I have her cookbook Baking with Julia and absolutely love it. I’m quite envious that you will have an opportunity to meet her. I’m in a bit of a spot now and I have to be looking for work, otherwise I would have made the trip to Seattle too! What a blast to be able to meet you too! Perhaps next year.

  62. These are irrestible and I hope you have a blast in a Washington! Please take lots of pictures.

  63. Wow! It must be so cool at attend the IFBC! Liz, I’m fascinated by your dessert! I bought some blueberries today & I may try this if I can squeeze some time 🙂

  64. I always thought to cook French food is difficult but you make it sound simple and easy to make. And look fantastic too!

  65. no fair posting at breakfast since I would eat this anytime of the day I let it be breakfast today! omg yum!

  66. I do so love meringues and these floating islands look absolutely decadent !

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