Floating Islands

Saturday 14 February 2015

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On Valentines day I like to pull out the stops a little bit when it comes to serving a lovely dinner to my beloved.    Nice needn't be complicated however.  A simple soup for a first course . . .  a steak (with a bearnaise butter) and baked potato for the main, along with a salad . . .  and for dessert, this simple, uncomplicated yet delicious dish.  Floating Islands.  A bit old fashioned yes, but impressive nonetheless and light.  Perfect for afters when you've eaten a somewhat heavy meal.

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What's really nice about this dessert is  . . .  well three things really . . .  one, you probably have everything you need to make it in your house right now and . . .  two, it's very easy to make, and this version is extremely easy as the egg white souffles or "Islands" are cooked in the microwave instead of being poached as they traditionally are . . . three . . . both the custard sauce (or creme anglaise) and the "Islands" can be made several hours ahead of time, leaving only the simple caramel sauce to be done at the last minute.

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So what you have is light microwave "poached" meringues sitting afloat on a lake of delicious custard . . .  with a caramel sauce, lightly flavoured with lemon . . . .  drizzled over top.   A few flaked almonds and dessert is ready.  You can toast the almonds if you wish.  I don't bother myself.


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*Floating Islands*
Serves 6

This is a simple dessert which uses things we all have in our house most of the time, and yet it is also impressive enough to serve for special occasions.  It's a bit old fashioned, but very good.  You can make the sauce and egg whites a few hours ahead of time, leaving only the caramel to make at the last minute, which makes it the perfect dish for entertaining!  The islands are made in the microwave so you will need six microwave proof ramekins. 

6 large free range egg whites
3 TBS sifted icing sugar
flaked almonds to serve  

For the Custard Sauce:
500ml of full fat milk (2 1/4 cups)
(You may also use half milk and half single cream)
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
5 large free range egg yolks
75g of caster sugar (1/3 cup)  

For the caramel:
100g of caster sugar (1/2 cup)
freshly squeezed lemon juice  

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First make the custard sauce.  Put the milk and vanilla pod into a saucepan and bring just to the boil.  (Bubbles will appear just at the edges.)  Remove from the heat immediately, cover and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes.

Put the egg yolks into a heat proof bowl with the sugar.   Whisk until slightly thickened and pale yellow in colour.  Gradually whisk in the hot milk.  Place the bowl over a saucepan filled with simmering water.  Do not allow the water to touch the bottom of the bowl.   Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly with a metal spoon until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Do NOT allow it to boil or it will curdle.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Put the egg whites and icing sugar into a clean bowl and beat until stiff.  Divide the egg whites between six ramekins, filling them to the top.  Put two ramekins in the middle of the microwave oven.   Make sure that the dishes touch in the middle of the oven.   Cook on LOW for 30 seconds.  Check and then repeat for 30 seconds more.  The whites will puff up like a souffle.  If they are not quite firm all the way through, repeat for a further 30 seconds.  Repeat this until all six ramekins are cooked.   Gently prise the islands from out of the ramekins.

When ready to serve, put two to three spoonfuls of the custard sauce into six shallow dessert dishes.   Top each with an egg white puff.   Prepare the caramel.

Put the caster sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice and 3 TBS of water in a heavy saucepan.  Cook, stirring constantly, until it turns a light caramel colour.  (Don't walk away.  it happens really quickly)   Trickle some caramel over each egg white puff and sprinkle with almonds.   Serve immediately.

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Happy Valentines Day to all you lovers out there!  Hope you have a fabulously tasty day!


  1. Can you believe I have never made one?

    Looks so pretty in that bowl..Happy Valentine's you two..

  2. Thanks Monique! Happy Valentines to you both àlso! Xxoo

  3. I've never heard of Floating Islands before, love the looks of your sweet dessert :-) x

  4. Thanks so much Charlene! It's a pretty old fashioned dessert!

  5. we love floating island!! I use an old Joy of Cooking recipe and just pile the meringue on top of the creme anglaise and broil it. I've heard that the poaching method is the French variation. (this is my blog post on it: http://thriftathome.blogspot.com/2010/08/fabulous-floating-island.html)

    Love your idea to add caramel sauce and almonds.

  6. Thanks Margo! The caramel sauce and almonds just make it that tiny bit more special for a celebration! I'll be by to check out yours!


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