Floating Islands with Spun Sugar

Floating Islands with Spun Sugar

I saw Mary Berry create this recipe for floating islands on the Great British Bake Off Masterclass. I have always sprinkled cocoa powder over the meringue eggs (see here) but would certainly recommend this for a change.

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4 servings
  • Preparation time: 40 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the crème anglaise
  • 240 ml (8 fl oz) full fat/whole milk (1 cup)
  • 180 ml (7 fl oz) double cream/heavy cream (¾ cup)
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only (reserve 3 egg whites for the meringue)
  • 85 g (3 oz) caster/superfine sugar (⅓ cup)
  • For the meringues
  • 3 eggs, whites only (reserved from the crème anglaise)
  • 85 g (3 oz) caster/superfine sugar (⅓ cup)
  • For the spun sugar
  • 115 g (4 oz) caster/superfine sugar (½ cup)

Equipment

  • You will also need a deep sided sauté or frying pan/skillet with lid and four shallow dessert bowls.


  • Method
  • For the spun sugar
  • Melt the sugar, without stirring, in a small stainless steel pan over a medium heat. Meanwhile, cover a rolling pin with parchment. When the sugar turns a deep golden-brown remove the pan from the heat. Leave to cool slightly, about 30 seconds, then, using the back of a fork or a whisk, quickly flick the caramel backwards and forwards over the rolling pin. (Take care as the sugar will still be very hot.) Gather the strands into a rough ball shape while gently pulling upwards and place on a clean sheet of parchment paper.

  • For the poaching liquid
  • This will become the crème anglaise. Pour the milk and cream in the sauté or frying pan/skillet and stir in the vanilla. Then bring to a gentle simmer over a low heat while making the meringue.

  • For the meringues
  • In a large grease-free bowl, using an electric hand whisk on fast speed, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form (or use the whisk attachment on a food mixer). Now gradually whisk in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form and the meringue is thick and glossy. 


  • Have a glass or jug of water to hand. Then using two metal tablespoons or serving spoons, shape large eggs from the meringue mixture, dipping the spoons in the water to help shape them and keep them smooth. The meringue should make 4 very large eggs. Place the meringue eggs in the poaching liquid as you form them. Cover the pan and, over a very low heat, poach the meringue eggs for about 8–9 minutes, flipping them 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, transfer them to a wire rack covered with paper towel to drain. 


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


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


  • Gradually stir in the warm poaching milk. Then pour the mixture into a clean heavy-based pan and cook over a very low heat for 3–4 minutes, stirring continuously, until smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat.

To serve

  • Divide the crème anglaise amongst the dessert bowls and then float a meringue egg on top.

    Decorate with a ball of spun sugar.

Updated: December 29, 2019

Floating Islands Dusted with Cocoa

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.

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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.

Equipment

  • 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.

Updated: December 29, 2019