Iles Flottantes

Iles flottantes (floating islands) are the perfect finish to any rich meal. Make the creme anglaise in advance to save time, and have fun with your own choice of flavourings.
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 5 hr
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Inactive: 4 hr
  • Cook: 30 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

Creme Anglaise:

3 ounces/80 grams sugar

4 free-range egg yolks

1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out

18 fluid ounces/500 milliliters milk

1/2 teaspoon ground long pepper or freshly ground black pepper

Praline:

3 ounces/75 grams sugar

2 ounces/50 grams slivered almonds

Meringue Islands:

2 free-range egg whites (2 1/4 ounces/60 grams)

1 3/4 ounces/45 grams icing sugar (confectioners'), sifted if lumpy

Couple of drops of lemon juice

Pinch of salt

Directions

  1. For the creme anglaise: Mix the sugar and egg yolks together in a bowl.
  2. Place the vanilla pod and seeds in a pan with the milk and pepper and bring to a boil. Remove the pod (you can rinse and dry it and use it for vanilla sugar). Then pour a little of the hot milk onto the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously. Gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, and then pour the mix into a clean pan, set over a gentle heat and whisk constantly. Do not let the custard simmer at any point or it will split. After 5 minutes it will begin to thicken slightly and become the consistency of single cream (it will thicken more when it cools down). Transfer to a bowl and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  3. For the praline: Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  4. Put the sugar and 1 fluid ounce/25 milliliters water into a large pan; heat gently until the sugar dissolves, and then increase the heat to high. When the mixture starts to bubble, add the almonds and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring continuously to prevent the almonds sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. Once the sugar and nuts have become a dark golden-brown caramel colour, pour onto the prepared tray and spread as thinly as possible with a palette knife (be quick as it sets fast). Set aside to cool.
  5. For the meringue islands: Put half the egg whites into a clean glass or metal bowl. Add the sugar, lemon juice and salt and whisk until snow white. Add the rest of the egg whites and continue whisking until the meringue forms stiff peaks when the whisk is removed.
  6. Gently drop 6 spoonfuls of meringue into a large pot of simmering water and simmer until they are slightly puffed up and just set, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place onto a sheet of baking paper until needed.
  7. To assemble, pour a ladleful of creme anglaise into each of 6 glasses and gently place a meringue in the centre. Snap the praline into small pieces and sprinkle on top.

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