Floating Islands Dusted with Cocoa

Floating Islands make a  lovely light dessert where poached meringues float on a creamy crème anglaise and are dusted with cocoa powder.

Floating Islands Dusted with Cocoa

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the crème anglaise
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) milk (⅞ cup)
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (⅞ cup)
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only (reserving 3 egg whites for the meringue)
  • 55 g (2 oz) caster/superfine sugar (¼ cup)
  • For the meringues
  • 3 egg whites, reserved from the crème anglaise
  • 85 g (3 oz) caster/superfine sugar (½ cup less 1 tbsp)
  • To serve
  • Cocoa powder for dusting or grated plain/dark chocolate.


  • You will also need a large sauté pan or large deep sided frying pan/skillet with lid.

  • Method
  • For the meringues
  • In a large grease-free bowl, using an electric hand whisk on high speed, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form (or use the whisk attachment on a food mixer). Then gradually whisk in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until the meringue is thick and glossy. Put to one side while preparing the poaching liquid.

  • For the poaching liquid
  • This will become the crème anglaise. Pour the milk and cream into the pan and stir in the vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract. Bring to a gentle simmer over a low heat.

  • For the islands (also known as quenelles)
  • Fill a tumbler or jug with water. Now, using two metal tablespoons, shape eggs from the meringue. Dip the spoons in the water between making each egg as this will help in shaping them and keeping them smooth. Place the meringue eggs in the poaching liquid as you go. There should be enough meringue to make 8 eggs. Cover the pan and, over a very low heat, poach the meringue eggs for 4–5 minutes, flipping them over halfway through. Make sure the poaching liquid simmers very gently. It must not boil or the meringues will puff up and then collapse. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, carefully transfer them to a wire rack covered with paper towel to drain. 

  • For the crème anglaise
  • Strain the poaching liquid through a sieve into a jug. 

  • Next, in a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 2–3 minutes. 

  • Gradually stir in the poaching liquid. Then pour the mixture into a clean pan and cook over a low heat for 3–4 minutes, stirring continuously, until the mixture is smooth and begins to thicken. When it has become thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove from the heat.

To serve

  • Divide the crème anglaise amongst four shallow individual serving bowls and then float two meringue eggs on top of each one. 

  • They can then be decorated with a dusting of cocoa powder or a little grated chocolate.
Print Recipe

Updated: December 29, 2019

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