35 thoughts on “P&Q: Floating Islands

  1. I actually remember making these in 7th grade home ec. At that time I thought they were awfully hard to make, but delicious. Unfortunately I will not be participating this week. Valentine’s Day + flower shop = CRAZY TIME FOR BECKY!!! I will read up on everyone’s progress, and wish everyone luck!!

  2. I actually remember making these in 7th grade home ec. At that time I thought they were awfully hard to make, but delicious. Unfortunately I will not be participating next week. Valentine’s Day + flower shop = CRAZY TIME FOR BECKY!!! I will read up on everyone’s progress, and wish everyone luck!!

  3. I made this dessert on Monday. I’ve never made them before or tasted them before, but they are French and are also in my other favorite cookbook: Le Cordon Bleu at Home! And if you’re a pudding kind of person like me, I think you’ll love me. In fact a little sigh escaped my mouth after taking one bite, they were that good.

    So some tips:

    * The creme anglaise is easy. It’s basically an ice cream base. You can make this ahead of time since it builds flavor as it sits in the refrigerator.

    * I used some frozen egg yolks that I had in my freezer in the creme anglaise, so it was good to clean up some leftover pantry items. I didn’t try using my frozen egg whites since I think meringue is a little fussy.

    * The meringue came together easily following Dorie’s simple directions. {However, I’m not sure what the kitchen towel was for exactly.}

    * I didn’t have enough milk on hand so used some table cream to poach them in. I made sure to use a large, wide pot so that the milk didn’t boil over. I don’t like cleaning my stovetop!

    * To shape the islands, I used my 1 tbsp ice cream scoop. Some fell out of the ice cream scoop great; some stuck to the scoop. I liked the shape of the ice cream scoop ones the best. I also tried a larger ice cream scoop, but they puffed up too big. And I tried using spoons, but found these were oddly-shaped and puffed up too big. Whatever method you use, know that they expand quite a bit when poached in the milk.

    * As for the caramel, I tried making it twice. First I burnt it. Then the second batch hardened too quickly on me. So I ended up using store-bought caramel sauce. (Shh, don’t tell anyone!) If I try again to make the caramel, I’ll add some cream at the end (maybe 2 tbsp?) so that it remains runny.

    * I bet flavoring the creme anglaise and caramel with eggnog or Baileys or something else would be tasty. I love the vanilla flavor though.

    * You could also try piping the meringue into the poaching liquid to make, say, a heart?! I tried this at the end, but I’d run out of poaching liquid by then so it clung to the bottom of the pan and didn’t turn out. But I think it would work as long as you make the hearts small enough to easily flip over.

    * I also added food coloring to part of the meringue. I bet you can guess what color since Valentine’s Day is coming up.

    * I stored the islands in a tupperware container. It’s Wednesday now, and they still taste good. They’ve lost a bit of the “crust” from the first day, but I’m still enjoying them. In fact, I’m the only one in the house who is eating them, and I intend not to let any of it go to waste! Forget the diet this week!

    * If you have any leftover creme anglaise (if that’s possible!), you could process it into ice cream. Floating islands on iceburgs, maybe?

    I hope this helps. It really isn’t that hard a dessert to make. I’ll let you know if I think of anything else!


  4. Ditto, made the meringues a couple days ago and they’re still holding pretty well.

    Make sure you strain the creme anglaise; I was actually surprised at how much gunk I got in my sieve while pouring the custard through.

    For shaping the meringues, I used two large soup spoons. Turning them over repeatedly eventually gave a nice oval shape. I got lazy towards the end and just tossed mountainous globs into the simmering milk – they taste the same, so no harm done.

    I let the meringues poach for 2-3 minutes on each side instead of only one. Not sure if this had a part in their holding their structural integrity for longer than expected.

    Not having anything better to serve them in, I poured the creme anglaise into a ceramic pie pan and floated the meringues on top. My boss took one look at it and asked me what was wrong with the lemon meringue pie. Don’t make my mistake =P

  5. i made mine early in the day, so i could photo it in daylight and then hold it in the fridge until dessert at night. therefore, i also let my meringues poach for and extra minute on each side, so i was sure they’d keep. i actually poached my meringues before making the custard, so i could use the milk from poaching to make the anglaise. i strained it and remeasured it (adding a lit extra fresh milk to get the required amount) before proceeding with the custard. it was quite easy, all in all, and tasted great!

  6. I have never had a floating island before so I really am looking forward to making this.
    Thanks for all the great tips Shari, your advice makes me feel more confident about making these.

  7. I made my custard yesterday with no problems. The islands today though….I’m not sure about them. I don’t know if I didn’t let them poach long enough or what. They don’t look quite right. We’re having them for dessert in a couple of hours, so hopefully they turned out!

  8. Shari, If I want to make ice cream out of my leftovers, would I just process just that? The recipes I always use are totally different than this and have no eggs in them, so I’m at a loss here! Thanks!

  9. Thanks for all the tips so far. I was so busy last week I didn’t get to do the cookies. but my dad is coming to visit on Sunday so I think I will make these tomorrow :)

  10. I had some trouble with the creme anglaise. It never did reach the 180 degree temperature that Dorie says it should hit. It seemed like it cooked forever — way past the 10 minutes noted in the book — and while it thickened, coated the spoon, etc., it never got past maybe 150 on two different thermometers. I cranked the heat up to medium, stood there for at least 30 minutes, and finally decided to bail 30 degrees short of the desired temperature. It was certainly thickened, anyway (although not particularly lightened). It was a feat to strain it through the sieve, but the stuff that actually made it through looked pretty good, and tasted great. I’m going to let it sit overnight while I recover from all that standing and stirring, and we’ll see how the rest of it goes tomorrow!

  11. Wow, that’s a long time to stand and stir! Were you using a stainless steel or copper pot and not a glass one? I don’t see why it would take so long. In fact, after I boiled my milk and after I’d slowly added it to the eggs, once I put back on the burner to get to 180 it was already there! Maybe my thermometer is off. But it was thick enough for me, and like Steph said, I was surprised by how much “gunk” I had after straining. But it tasted delicious. Hope it works out in the end for you!

  12. I’ve had similar temperature issues with lemon curd (which is also thickened with egg yolks). I’ve found the most reliable test is to run a spoon or spatula across the bottom of the pan. If you can see the trail of the spoon across the bottom of the pan for a few seconds, but the mixture flows back in fairly quickly, it’s ready. If the trail remains and fills in very slowly, it’s going to be too thick. (Thanks to Cooks’ Illustrated for this tip.)

  13. Shari, I was using a heavy all clad stainless steel pan. I had similar issues with the marshmallow filling for next week’s cake (which I made a couple of weeks ago) – it took way longer to reach temperature than I thought it should have. It could be that my electric stovetop is pokey, or maybe I have a problem with my thermometers. Barbara, that CI tip is very helpful – I probably did not get as much anglaise as I should have because I let the custard get too thick. What I did end up with looks okay and tastes great, though!

  14. Cathy–My sugar syrup for next weeks cake took way longer than the recipe also. Typically when I make a syrup for my Italian Meringue Buttercream it goes much faster…but Im thinking the amount of sugar and cream of tartar are what slow it down?
    I just made my frosting for the cake today but wanted to add a few tablespoons of butter because I thought it needed something ‘extra’ ….and CRAP…the whole thing went kerplunk! Anyone have suggestions????? I do not want to go through the whole syrup boiling again today. I could just keep whipping it….but that didnt seem to help???

  15. Wow, my custard reached the proper consistency in about 2 minutes. I was so surprised that I just stood and looked for a second, and in that time the eggs scrambled ever so slightly. It absolutely would not strain, so I’m going to start over again with the creme anglaise.

    My islands are rustic to say the least.

  16. Just made the creme anglaise, and had a bit of a problem… I thought it wasn’t getting thick enough, and then I guess I cooked it too much, because it ended up being curdled. I just took it off the heat and blended it together with a stick blender, and it seems to be ok ;) We’ll see!

  17. I made the creme anglaise and I thought I cooked it long enough but after reading everyone else’s comments I think mine may be too runny. It definitely coated the spoon but it was a thin coat.

  18. Sorry everyone….I got off topic and was talking about the Chocolate cake ….that isnt up for a few weeks. But…figured I would check on here to see if anyone is making it ahead of time. :) Sorry for the confusion.

  19. I’ve been reviewing my creme anglaise process in my head. I THINK I know where I might have gone wrong. I was lazy, didn’t want to have to clean two pans, and brought my one cup (I cut the recipe in half) of milk to a boil in the pyrex measuring cup in the microwave. I thought it was boiling (it seemed to be bubbling), but I can’t be as sure as I’d be if I saw a rolling boil in a saucepan. I am not sure if this was the problem (i.e., milk not hot enough) but I can’t see what else it could possibly be. Out of sheer morbid curiousity I might try again later, boil the milk in a pan, and see if I get a different result.

  20. kim – I had the same problem with my creme anglaise being curdled. I strained it and threw out the rest. I wish I would have read this before I did that!

    My creme anglaise is very thin now. I went ahead and added the vanilla anyway. Hope it tastes good!

  21. My creme anglaise was runny too, but boy was it tasty! I just made the creme anglaise from a Cordon Bleu recipe book I have, and it called for 2 cups milk to 4 egg yolks, and the consistency was much thicker. The downside was it wasn’t as sweet as Dorie’s since it called for 1/4 cup sugar instead of the 1/2 cup sugar in Dorie’s. And the LCB version used a real vanilla bean and some extract, which was a nice touch.

    Also, for this creme anglaise, I used skim milk. Worked fine. So I would think anything fattier would be that much tastier!

  22. I just made my creme anglaise..I think it came out ok, but not sure.

    I got to 170 or so on my instant read….stirred some more…started to see a bubble and got worried about it curdling, so turned it down a bit..then I stirred it and stirred it and it never got past 160/165….so I gave up. I read in another cookbook to be sure it gets to 165 and in another 170..so I hope I was close enough! (So Cathy, I feel your pain! I also did milk in microwave, but mine definitely was bubbling on its way out. I was worried about the curdling facotr, it seemed to be going in that direction so I gave up before it hit 180. I don’t want to go through SIX more eggs, so will go with this as-is.

    It’s in the fridge now…hoping it comes out ok! We shall see…

  23. I just made this. I highly recommend taking the 6-8 minutes to make the caramel topping. It gives the entire dish a creme brulee-like feel, with the crunchy caramel strands in contrast to the soft, fluffy islands and creamy base. Really interesting.

  24. I’m feeling like such a slacker, I did not do the cream anglaise! Don’t hate me! I had some home made chocolate fudge sauce sitting in the fridge that I wasn’t sure what to do with (left over from a cake I made last week) and figured I’d just float my islands in chocolate. Hope that’s okay with everyone :)

  25. Pingback: Recettes du jour, 10 février 2009 | 1 tasse

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