Île Flottante or “Floating Island” is one of my favorite desserts ever. There are many different versions of this dessert. Each restaurant has their own recipe and version but it is basically a poached meringue in English Cream. I always try it if it’s on the menu.
The first one I ever had was at Bofinger in Paris. Theirs has caramel drizzled on top with shredded almonds or pecans.
The Hide, also in Paris, has angel food cake and caramel ice cream in their flottante.
La Poule au Pot added raspberries and extra crème anglais on the side.
This one from La Cuisine du Dimanche in Avignon was very tall and very delicious.
David Lebovitz calls this dish œufs a la neige, or snow eggs. They also call it “snow eggs” on the Great British Baking Show. Here’s a link to David’s recipe on his website.
I gave his recipe a try. Since I was only making this dish for my parents and myself I cut the recipe in half.
First I made the English Cream. This is a lot like custard which I’ve made in the past. I didn’t use the whole vanilla bean because they are not cheap. Instead I used vanilla extract paste. The paste includes bits of the bean so you still get that speckled look. I found it at Home Goods but they sell it in a lot of places. The better quality ingredients the better your final product will be. I had to make it twice since the liquid was too hot when I added the eggs and they cooked, giving me sweet scrambled eggs.
Next I made the egg whites, the floating part of the dessert. The water was too hot for the first few I tried. As a result, when I took the “eggs” out of water they deflated. Finally I found a good lower temperature where the water was just simmering and not boiling. These meringues came out a lot better.
Next I made the caramel. I didn’t want to make a huge mess by flicking the hot sugar back and forth over two wooden spoons so I used a fork and drew lines on parchment paper.
Finally I assembled the whole thing. I put the cream into a bowl and added an egg white island. Then I took the cooled caramel and placed it on top. I think it came out looking nice and tasting delicious but I think I will leave it to the professionals.