Floating islands

Floating islands

100 Best Cakes and Desserts
Mark Roper

Floating Islands, Oeufs à la Neige or Ile Flottante, was one of my grandmother’s favourite desserts. It’s important to use very fresh eggs to make the poached meringue.


Quantity Ingredient
500ml milk
1/2 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
5 large eggs, separated
170g caster sugar
pinch cream of tartar
100g flaked almonds, toasted
icing sugar, for dusting


Quantity Ingredient
200g sugar
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar


  1. In a saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla pod to the boil.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks with 125 g of the caster sugar until the mixture turns pale and forms a ribbon.
  3. Pour the hot milk onto the egg-yolk mixture and whisk well. Pour into the saucepan and, using a wooden spatula, stir over medium heat until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of the spatula. Do not allow the custard to boil. Strain into a heatproof bowl, then set aside to cool.
  4. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until fairly firm. Beat in the remaining caster sugar until stiff peaks form.
  5. Three-quarters fill a wide saucepan with water and bring to a simmer. Using a large metal spoon, scoop out six balls of the egg-white mixture and gently place them on top of the simmering water. Cook for 1 minute, then carefully turn them over and cook for a further 2–3 minutes. Lift the egg-white balls out of the water, and drain on a clean cloth.
  6. Pour the cooled custard into a wide bowl. Gently place the egg-white balls on top of the custard and sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
  7. Cook the sugar, vinegar and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the mixture is light brown. Spoon the caramel over the top of the egg-white balls and dust with icing sugar. Serve immediately.
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