Floating island, île flottante, snowy egg, or bird milk it depends on where you live, but the dessert is of French origin, consisting of meringue floating on crème anglaise (a vanilla custard). The meringues are prepared from whipped egg whites, sugar and vanilla extract then quickly poached. The crème anglaise is prepared with the egg yolks, vanilla, and hot milk, briefly cooked.
There is some confusion about the name. In French cuisine, the terms œufs à la neige (“eggs in snow”) and île flottante (floating island) are sometimes used interchangeably; the latter is the source of the English name. The difference between the two dishes is that île flottante sometimes contains islands made of “alternate layers of alcohol-soaked dessert biscuits and jam.”
Floating island is made of egg whites served floating on a milky custard sauce. Some variations use a thicker sauce, served on top of the dumplings, but usually the milk mix is thin, almost liquid, and the dumplings “float” on top.
The egg whites are beaten with sugar and poured into a mould lined with a thin layer of caramel. Alternately, the whites can be shaped with spoons and allowed to cook gently in sweetened milk with vanilla flavoring. The custard is made using milk, sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks; the mix is cooked in a bain-marie for a few minutes, but must remain thin enough to pour. The custard is topped with the egg whites dumplings. The dish is served at room temperature or cold.
Ingredients: 250 ml or 1 cup milk, 250 ml cream, 1 vanilla bean, 5 egg yolks, 100gr or 1/3 cup sugar, sugar for deco,
For the gnocchi: 4 egg whites, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 125/1 cup gr sugar, 1 package vanilla sugar, 1/2 l milk, almonds
Bring milk to a boil, then remove from heat. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise, add to milk, cover and steep for about 15 minutes.
Separate whites and yolks of eggs. Set aside 4 of the egg whites and freeze the other 2 for another use. Beat yolks and slowly sprinkle in 1⁄3 cup of the sugar. Continue beating until thick and pale yellow in color.
Remove vanilla bean from milk. Scrape seeds from bean and add to milk, discarding pod. Pour milk, in a fine stream, into egg yolks while beating them continuously. Pour mixture into a pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until it forms a custard thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes; don’t rush the process or the eggs will scramble. Pour custard through a strainer into a shallow serving dish. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.
Beat egg whites until foamy, then add 1⁄3 cup of the sugar very slowly, continuing to beat until egg whites are shiny and stiff but not dry.
Put remaining milk in a large shallow pan and bring to a low simmer. Using a large slotted spoon, form big egg shapes out of whites and poach them in the milk for 30 seconds on each side. Do not overcook. Put the “eggs” on a clean towel to drain.
Combine remaining 2⁄3 cup sugar with 1⁄3 cup water in a small heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until sugar caramelizes, turning amber in color. Remove pan from heat to prevent caramel from burning. This can happen very quickly, so it is best to take the pan from the heat just before the sugar darkens, as it will continue cooking. Cool for 5 minutes or until caramel forms into threads when drizzled from the tines of a fork.
Using a slotted spoon, carefully arrange the “eggs” on top of the custard. Dip a fork into the slightly cooled caramel you will have to work quickly—and wave the fork over the dessert to form threads of caramel that crisscross and tangle. Scatter with almond seeds and serve immediately.