Thursday, March 31, 2016

Recipe of the week: Ile Flottante (Floating island)

Nowadays you often see this recipe presented as small portions or quenelles of meringue in each plate. Traditionally however it is one large meringue island floating in warm vanilla custard to be shared. This is a much easier option as well, as you don't individually poach the meringues; you bake it whole.
For the meringue:
1/2 t butter - 4 egg whites - 225g caster sugar
Turn your oven on to 180⁰C. Lightly butter the inside of a deep oven proof 15cm round cake tin or bowl with straight sides. Coat the inside with a little of the sugar. Beat the egg whites until stiff, then gradually whisk in half of the sugar till thick and glossy. Then, using a metal spoon, carefully fold in the rest of the sugar. Gently spoon into the tin.
Place the filled tin in a roasting tray filled with 3cm of boiling water and put into the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. As the meringue (which may be golden and a little crisp on top) cools, it will shrink, so you should ease the sides away to allow it to move, gently using a pallet knife or your fingers.
The custard
4 egg yolks - 25g caster sugar - 250ml single or pouring cream - 1 t vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar. If using a vanilla pod, cut it open and extract the seeds and add them and the pod to the cream in a small pot. Heat the cream with the vanilla gently till just below boiling (it must NOT boil), then pour it on to the egg mixture. Stir well to blend, then strain into a glass bowl set over simmering water. The bowl must not touch the water. Stir till cooked and thickened, it should coat the back of your spoon. It does take several minutes, so do watch it carefully or you will end up with scrambled egg. Let the custard cool.
To assemble the pudding
In a deep serving dish a few cm's wider than the top of your meringue, carefully upend the meringue island. Drizzle over hot caramel (*see below) in a thin random pattern. If you can do sugar work, you can make spun sugar, but just randomly drizzling caramel is fine. You can also make a flower or whirl on greased paper to top the pudding with the caramel. All this can be done in advance. To serve, surround it with the warm custard and enjoy the praise.
50g of white sugar

 Put the sugar into a clean, dry, small heavy bottomed pan, add heat and let it turn into caramel. Do not stir till it is all molten, but you can swirl the pan to make the colour spread. It does need to be a good dark caramel colour, but be careful not to let it burn. Be careful, caramel is molten sugar so do not touch it, you can be badly burned
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

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