Ile Flottante literally means "floating island", though doesn't an island float by definition? Anyway it is also a very nice and easy French dessert, something that we used to have when we visited the in-laws.
EB is a bachelor for the week as his family has left before him on holiday. Hub has invited him over for lunch today so that they could watch the Grand Prix on TV together. Unlike Hub, EB has always been a F1 fan. In fact, racing cars are his passion, which is why he has become an expert in aerodynamics and now works for Ferrari.
Beef Curry (made with beef cheeks - delicious!)
I couldn't have a guest and not offer him dessert. Lunch will be kept simple since I still have a number of household chores to deal with over the weekend. I have decided to make a Zucchini Blossom Quiche to start, followed by a Beef Curry to be served with Pappadams and Jeera Rice. As for dessert, since it will still be hot even though temperatures have dropped this week, I'll keep it light and fresh - thus the île flottante.
Ile Flottante (serves 6) :
The Crème Anglaise :
6 Egg Yolks
2 Tsp Vanilla extract (or a vanilla pod)
2 Tbsp Grand Marnier
The Islands :
6 Egg Whites
1/2 Tsp Salt
The Caramel :
2 Tbsp Water (+ 1 Tbsp for the end)
Juice of half a Lemon
Grilled sliced Almonds (for garnishing - optional)
You can prepare the crème anglaise the day before and chill it in the fridge for the next day.
Separate the yolks from the whites. In a big bowl, beat the yolks with the sugar till the mixture is thick and creamy.
Gently heat the milk with the vanilla and Grand Marnier in a heavy-bottom casserole. When it starts to boil, pour it over the egg yolk mixture and beat everything together.
Return the combined mixture to the casserole and simmer it for 5 minutes on very low heat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. This is to thicken the sauce, but watch out, overheating will cause the yolk to coagulate and the cream will turn as a result. So keep a tight eye on the sauce. It's ready when you dip a metal spoon into the sauce and it coats the back of the spoon.
Cool completely before chilling it in the fridge.
In a clean and dry bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt till it becomes thick and stiff. Add the sugar and continue to whisk.
Microwave the egg white mixture on the lowest setting (mine's 170W) for 2min30s, followed by the highest setting (750W) for 2 minutes. Actually you have to try it in stretches of 30 seconds in your microwave oven to play safe. Set aside and let it cool before chilling in the fridge. (The traditional method would be to cook it in a bain-marie for 40 minutes.)
Prepare the caramel by heating the sugar in a casserole with the water and lemon juice and stirring from time to time till it turns golden brown. Stir in the 3rd Tbsp of water to increase the volume of caramel. Set aside to cool. If you prefer a normal caramel, omit the lemon juice.
If using individual bowls, pour a little of the crème anglaise into each bowl and scoop out a portion of the cooked egg white on top so that it floats on the sauce. Drizzle some caramel over the island and garnish with grilled sliced almonds if desired.