Floating island dessert, aka Ile flottante, aka Eufs à la neige, is a light, delicious French dessert made of creme anglaise and poached meringues. Silky vanilla sauce coating the super light and fluffy poached meringue that feels like eating a cloud. Add butter biscuits to give some texture and sweetness and you have a recipe for happiness.
Maybe I should’ve called my blog Vanilla dreams, or Something vanilla, or Just add vanilla, or… you get the point. I cannot help myself making vanilary, custardy desserts, they are just my absolute favorite. I’m going to stop apologizing for that now because I know you will love this dessert!
I’ve never seen or heard about floating island dessert or ile flottante, let alone Eufs à la neige (so many names), until I tried it at someone’s house. I was hooked from the first bite!
The original recipe does not include the crushed butter biscuits, I’m guessing friend’s mom added this, but let me tell you that this makes it even more special. I think it’s genius and so simple but adds so much. What most of the recipes online do call for in floating island desserts are slivered almonds with some caramel drizzled on top, as you can see in my pictures. I tried it, didn’t like it, so I excluded it from the recipe. If you wish to try it, go ahead and melt some sugar to get the caramel, add the slivered almonds and use.
Random fact: my favorite dessert ever (okay, maybe one of my favorites) is creme brulee. Wow, what a shock! I just wanted to say that in my creme brulee, which I like silky and not too creamy, I use half milk and half heavy cream even though most recipes call for heavy cream only. There is a similar story here, I make creme anglaise with milk only, because the silkiness of the sauce is just liquid, edible gold to me! If you like it creamier, substitute the last milk addition with heavy cream.
Okay turns out I doesn’t have many custard recipes?? Like I don’t have a recipe for creme brulee, but to be honest that’s because I find it so hard to take pretty pictures of… I will deliver it someday, I promise!
In the meanwhile check my glorious, most delicious vanilla cakes:
- Vanilla cake with strawberries and pineapple
- Funfetti vanilla birthday cake
- Birthday queen vanilla (my fav cake)
Bottom point, floating island is a refreshing, light summer dessert that you have to try! It should be served cold and can be made a few days ahead (4 max). You can also just prepare creme anglaise beforehand, pour it on the crushed biscuits and chill it. This way it’s cold and ready for when you want to serve it with freshly poached meringues. I recommend reading the whole recipe and note before making it.
(about 6 servings)
4 egg whites
90 g powdered sugar
pinch of cream of tartar*
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 l milk
7 egg yolks
90 g sugar
1 vanilla pod*
+ 200-300 ml milk*
+ 90 g butter biscuits Leibniz
Bring the 1 l of milk to a simmer in a large pot and then lower the temperature to a low. In the meantime beat the egg whites with cream of tartar on low speed for a few seconds, then increase the speed to medium-high. When the egg whites start to froth start adding the sugar, spoon by spoon mixing well in-between. Mix for 6-7 minutes or until you get glossy stiff peaks. Mix in the vanilla.
Poach the meringues
Scoop spoonfuls of the meringue and poach them in the barely simmering milk, 30-50 seconds on each side, turning them after they puff up. Make sure they are not too crowded in the milk and that while poaching, the milk isn’t boiling or the meringues will puff up, collapse and become gummy. Overcooking them will also make them gummy. When you see them stop puffing, gently take them out and let them rest on a plate. They will shrink a bit.
Pour the milk in which you poached the meringues through a sieve to catch any cooked bits of meringue. Weigh the milk and add as much additional milk as you need to get 1 liter again (200-300 ml). Put it back in the pan and bring to a boil with scraped vanilla seeds from the vanilla pod and the pod. Meanwhile, mix the egg yolks with sugar. Temper the yolk mixture-when the milk comes to a boil, slowly pour it into the egg yolk mixture while mixing constantly. Pour everything back to the pan and cook the creme anglaise on a medium-low heat for a few minutes stirring and scraping the bottom and the sides constantly so the eggs don’t cook. Cook until the custard reaches 85°C or until the custard is thick enough to coat the spatula, don’t boil! Strain the creme anglaise through a sieve into a bowl to remove any cooked bits and take out the vanilla pod. Cover with a cling film, so that it touches the surface of the sauce. Let it cool to room temperature.
When the creme anglaise is at room temp begin to assemble. Crush the biscuits to fine crumbs and distribute them to the serving bowl and press them down. Now slowly and carefully pour the creme anglaise on the biscuits, so they don’t float on top of the sauce. Add the poached meringues and refrigerate for as long as you can wait (the longer the better, so the biscuits can soak up the moisture of the sauce and the sauce can chill).
Enjoy the beautiful, delicious dessert you made :).
*You can leave out the cream of tartar if you don’t have it. It’s there to help stabilize the eggs whites.
*Instead of a vanilla pod you could use a tablespoon of vanilla extract.
*If you want your sauce to be more creamy, substitute the last addition of milk with heavy cream.