Floating Islands

Floating Islands

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Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 Serves 6.
This classic recipe is surprisingly simple. While the meringue and the crème anglaise can be prepared several hours in advance, you should make the caramel just before serving. Store the meringue at room temperature and refrigerate the crème anglaise.


For the meringue:

  • 8 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar

For the crème anglaise:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 heaping cup sugar

For the caramel:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbs. water
  • 1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds


Bring an 8-quart stockpot half full of water to a simmer.

To make the meringue, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the sugar and beat 30 seconds more. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using 2 large spoons, form the meringue into 6 egg shapes. Immediately drop them, 2 or 3 at a time, into the simmering water and poach 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

To make the crème anglaise, pour the milk into a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise to expose the seeds. Scrape the seeds into the milk and add the pod. Set the pan over medium-low heat and bring the milk just to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to steep, about 15 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and thick ribbons fall from the whisk. Slowly add the warm milk and vanilla to the egg mixture, stirring until smooth and blended. Return the sauce to the pan, set over low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until a finger drawn across the back of the spoon leaves a path, 15 to 20 minutes. Strain the crème anglaise through a fine-mesh sieve set over a clean bowl. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until cooled. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

To make the caramel, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water, cover and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes, remove the lid, and continue cooking, without stirring, until the sugar just begins to turn golden, 5 to 6 minutes more. Remove the caramel from the heat and assemble the floating islands immediately.

To serve, spoon the crème anglaise into a dessert bowl or soup bowl to about 1/2-inch depth. Place a meringue on top of the sauce, drizzle caramel over the meringue and top with toasted almonds. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and Serve immediately.
Serves 6.
Pastis, New York City
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