Ile Flottante (Floating Island)

To be able to cook well, one has to start from learning the classic. I totally agree with this. When I was introduced to French food a few years ago, I was fed with some beautiful classic dishes that I think those are the dishes I should learn and master before learning “nouvelle cuisine” (new cuisine). Nouvelle cuisine is a new take in cooking and presenting food in French cuisine. Nouvelle cuisine is characterised by lighter and delicate food, which focuses a lot on presentation. Whereby, cuisine classique appears to be rustic and more homely. Both nouvelle cuisine and cuisine classique are both haute cuisine (literally means high-class cooking with elaborate or skillfully prepared food, especially that of France.)

It has been quite a while since I posted a dessert recipe. Today, I felt like I needed a quick  fix of sweet stuff, so, a simple dessert came to my rescue. I love desserts that are custard based. Petits Pots de Crème au Caramel is one example of dessert that I never get tired of. It has been on my list of favourite desserts for a while. Now, it seems that I have got another one to add to my list!

I learnt about Ile Flottante a few years ago when I dined at one of the French bistros in Paris. Ile Flottane, or known as Floating Island (in English), is a classic French dessert that consists of meringue floating on a sea of vanilla custard, also known as crème anglaise in French. Ile flottante is usually served with a great drizzle of caramel and topped with some toasted almonds. I think the combination of all the flavours makes this dessert really special, a bit rustic and sweet. It’s pretty easy to make this dessert. Well, I didn’t make my own custard but bought a ready-made one, there are many choices at the supermarkets here ;) . Next time, I think I am going to make my own as I am sure that it’s going to taste even better!

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Ile Flottante - Floating Island

Yield: 4 persons

Ingredients:

For the custard:
350ml milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 egg yolks
75g caster sugar

For the meringue:
3 eggs
40g caster sugar
a pinch of salt

For the caramel:
125g granulated sugar
50ml water

Garnish:
a handful of toasted almonds

Directions:

1. Prepare the custard: Pour the milk in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the vanilla pod. Bring gently to the point of boiling. Remove from the heat.

2. Put in the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, mix with a wooden spoon until it is thick.

3. Pour hot milk over the yolk mixutre and mix well. Transfer the mixture into a clean saucepan, then heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil.

4. Strain the mixture and discard the vanilla bean.

5. Prepare the egg egg whites: beat egg whites until stiff with a pinch of salt. Meanwhile, Preheat the oven t0 140°C.

6. When they are firm, gradually stir in the sugar and continue to beat.

7. Transfer the beaten egg white into a dish. Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes.

8. To make the caramel, place 125g sugar in a saucepan with 50ml water and heat gently until dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer until deep golden in colour. Halt the cooking by plunging the base of the pan into a sink of icy water.

9. Divide the custard into individual cups/glasses/bowls.

10. Carefully scoop and place the egg whites and put into the cups/glasses/bowls.

11.Drizzle caramel and sprinkle some toasted almonds. Served slightly chilled.