Hey! Thanks for checking back, I’m glad to see you (in that virtual sense).
I’m going to dedicate a number of posts, during the month of March, to heading in a bit of a different direction: I’ll spend some time helping you experience things, at home, that are typically French, and giving you hints on how to get the best out of your experience if you are planning a trip there.
I think that in a global culture, that is getting more and more challenging given the extent to which culture gets exported as people migrate and relocate to various parts of the globe. Nonetheless, I’ll give it a go and to start it off…. Floating Islands.
I first tasted floating islands (îles flottantes in French) in 2004 in the city of Saintes, at the heart of the Poitou-Charentes region of western France. I was visiting a good friend whose mother made them for dessert. Amazingly good! Years later I found a recipe for them and it is possible to make them without being a degreed pastry chef!
(see recipe below)
What is it?
The short version: poached egg whites in a bath of crème anglaise
(in the photo, garnished with caramel and sliced almonds).
Bringing it home
Here’s the recipe….
- 4 eggs (separate yoke from white)
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 1 cup hot milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons flavor extract of choice (we use almond)
Making the Créme Anglaise:
- In a bowl, mix together 4 egg yokes & 1/4 cup of sugar for about 2 minutes then add the hot milk, vanilla and any other flavor extract you choose.
- Set the bowl atop a pot of boiling water (essentially like a double boiler) and cook until thickened nicely… stir constantly (be careful not to overheat, or it will get lumpy… and you don’t want a “crème-anglaise fail”. Even if it does get a bit lumpy, it’s still useable: the flavor will be fine, it’ll just be tough for those who are sensitive to texture.)
- Set aside and let cool
Making the “islands”:
- Using a mixer, beat the 4 egg whites until stiff (as though you were making meringue).
- Add 1/4 cup of sugar and beat for another 30 seconds, or so, with the mixer.
- Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar slowly and stir it in by hand then set aside.
- Place water in a deep frying pan or wide sauce pan & bring to a boil.
- Scoop spoonfuls of your egg-white mixture into the boiling water to poach them. Once done on one side, flip them over to do the other side as well (a minute or so on each side).
- Remove the meringues from the boiling water using a spoon with holes, if you have one, and place on a plate.
Spoon some of the crème anglaise mixture into a fruit nappie or dessert bowl and add some of your meringue pieces. If you’d like to do it the way they do it at the Chateau de Chambord… add caramel and almond slivers!
You now have, in each dish, a “sea” of crème anglaise, upon which “islands” of sweet meringue are floating… whence the name Floating Islands.
Note: mine never look quite as good as the one pictured, so don’t worry if yours don’t either… they taste good though!
You now can bring a little bit of France into your kitchen. Just before biting into it though… remember us in prayer; that God uses us to build His Kingdom in France.
God bless you today!