My mom has a friend who calls this soft meringue dessert "on my deathbed," because she says it is so good that if she were to ask what she wants to eat last before she dies, it would be a Floating Island or "Ile Flotante" (in French). Most recipes for the sauce, "Creme Anglaise," use the egg yolks but I have a much easier recipe that does not include eggs. Just discard the egg yolks or use them for something else. —Regine
FOR THE FAKE CREME ANGLAISE:
Combine sugar and cornstarch in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes just to a boil and slightly thickens. Remove from heat and add vanilla, lime zest & rum. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until well-chilled.
FOR THE FLOATING ISLAND:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees with rack in center. Fill a large roasting pan halfway with water and transfer to oven.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, slowly whisk whites and salt until slightly foamy. Add cream of tartar, and gradually increase the speed to high. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until meringue is stiff; lower speed and add vanilla, whisking until combined.
Spray a tube pan or angel-food cake pan without a removable bottom with baking spray. Transfer meringue to pan. Use a rubber spatula to press meringue down in order to remove any air pockets and smooth the surface.
Transfer to prepared roasting pan. Bake until lightly golden and puffed, 45 to 55 minutes. Don't worry if meringue has risen above rim of pan. It will deflate quite a bit as it cools. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool completely; meringue will deflate as it cools. Invert into a shallow serving bowl, and chill until ready to serve.
FOR THE CARAMEL SYRUP:
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix sugar and the 6 tbsp water until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to medium high flame and cook until dark amber, swirling the pan every now and then. Cook until you achieve the color you want like dark amber. When color is achieved, I like to lower heat; and then I put on top of the saucepan a big piece of aluminum foil with a small cut in the middle into which you will carefully pour in 3/4 cup of water. Whisk over medium heat for exactly 3 minutes. You may think the syrup is still too liquidy but don't worry; it will become thicker as it cools. However, it will always remains pourable. No need to ever warm it up to thin out the caramel. Will make about 1 cup + 2 tbsp caramel syrup. I like to store it in the fridge and remove from fridge 30 minutes or 1 hour before using.
Pour enough Creme Anglaise over and around the meringue so that the meringue looks like it is floating. Drizzle some of the caramel syrup over the meringue. Keep leftover Creme Anglaise and caramel syrup for those that want more.