Chill

Floating Islands

January 13, 2022
4.5 Stars
Photo by Bobbi Lin
Author Notes

Valentine’s Day makes me ten kinds of giddy. I’m not even the kind of girl who’s all about gift giving or fancy meals out. To me, it’s just an excuse to make extra pretty desserts (usually pink ones). Whether you’re baking for your best bud or the love of your life, these desserts make exactly two servings. This means one of two things: You can still stick to your New Year’s resolution afterward, OR you can make a nice variety of treats so your sweet tooth doesn’t get bored with too many boxed chocolates.

This is one of my favorite desserts of all time. It’s made of a few fancy-sounding components, but it’s super easy to create. First, you need vanilla sauce, or crème anglaise. Make it ahead and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Next, you need meringue. Since you’re only serving two, you don’t need much. I used two large egg whites and ⅓ cup sugar. Whip to stiff peaks with an electric mixer. When you’re ready to serve, bring 1 cup of milk to a simmer over medium-low heat. Spoon dollops of meringue into the simmering milk and poach until just set, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the milk with a slotted spoon and reserve.

When you’re ready to serve, simply ladle the crème anglaise into a bowl. To dress it up, I warm up seedless raspberry jam to loosen it, swirl about 1 tablespoon into each bowl of vanilla sauce, and place the meringues on top. —Erin Jeanne McDowell

Watch This Recipe
Floating Islands
  • Serves 2
Ingredients
  • Crème Anglaise:
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Meringues:
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Assembly:
  • 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/4 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup toasted chopped pistachios
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Make the Crème Anglaise: In a small pot over medium heat, bring the cream, milk, vanilla bean, salt, and ¼ cup of the sugar to a simmer.
  2. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and remaining 1 cup of the sugar.
  3. Add about one-third of the milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to incorporate. Return the mixture to the pot, whisking well to combine. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  4. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Chill in the refrigerator until nicely cold.
  5. Make the Meringues: In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat to stiff peaks.
  6. In a small pot, bring the milk to a simmer. Drop scoops of meringue (about 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons in size) into the hot milk and poach for 2 to 3 minutes, until fully cooked. Drain with a slotted spoon.
  7. Assemble: To serve, warm the jam to loosen it. Divide the crème anglaise between 2 bowls. Drizzle the jam over the sauce and swirl lightly to combine.
  8. Place the meringues on top of the sauce. Garnish with the raspberries and pistachios. Serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mihaela Pacurar
    Mihaela Pacurar
  • Cecília Mota
    Cecília Mota
  • Erin Jeanne McDowell
    Erin Jeanne McDowell
  • TJ
    TJ
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, The Book on Pie, came out on November 10th, 2020, and my pie merch collaboration with Food52 is out now too: https://food52.com/shop/merchants/manifest-food52/food52-x-erin-mcdowell

10 Reviews

TJ April 4, 2022
Even though my anglaise got a little too hot and started to break I was able to save it, and the finished product looked beautiful, but it was too sweet to eat. My wife and I both took one bite and pushed it aside. The sugar/cream ratio for the anglaise has to be off.
 
rose P. March 10, 2022
This does seem like an extreme amount of sugar, Most creme anglaise ratios are 2 parts milk/creme, 1 part yolks, 1/2 part sugar, by volume.
 
Mihaela P. February 9, 2018
Hi, Erin! What happens to the last bit of milk that you cook the meringue in? Do you add it to the egg yolk mixture too?
 
Author Comment
Erin J. February 9, 2018
That milk is just for poaching the meringues, and isn't used again in the recipe. I usually make a little tea or coffee with it, since it's already warmed up :)
 
Cecília M. February 7, 2018
Is it written 1 1/4 cup sugar? I suppose you meant 1/4, but you should correct it.
 
Author Comment
Erin J. February 7, 2018
Hi there! The amount is correct - you use 1/4 cup in step 1 and the remaining 1 cup in step 2, as written!
 
Cecília M. February 7, 2018
Hi Erin, sorry! So, you mean 2/3 cup milk and cream to 1 1/4 sugar?
 
[email protected] February 7, 2018
Yes indeed! Remember that the egg yolks also act as “liquid” in the final custard so the sugar is to sweeten the whole thing. That said, you could definitely cut the sugar down in this recipe and use 1/2-3/4 cup. Just remember to use about 1/4 of it in step one, then mix the remaining sugar in step 2!
 
Author Comment
Erin J. February 7, 2018
Yes indeed! Remember that the egg yolks also act as “liquid” in the final custard so the sugar is to sweeten the whole thing. That said, you could definitely cut the sugar down in this recipe and use 1/2-3/4 cup. Just remember to use about 1/4 of it in step one, then mix the remaining sugar in step 2!
 
Cecília M. February 7, 2018
Got it! Thanks!