Floating Islands

Floating Islands

  • Servings: 6
  • Rating:


2 cups milk
6 egg yolks
scant 1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

2 cups milk
6 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt


To make the custard: bring the milk to a boil over medium heat, then turn off the heat and let sit.

In a separate saucepan, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and salt until they thicken and lighten, about 3 minutes. Drizzle the just-boiled milk into the pan in a thin stream to temper the egg yolks, whisking all the while. Once the mixture is well-combined, place the pan over a medium-low flame. Continue to stir with a wooden spoon as it heats, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon so that it holds the mark if you draw through it with your finger. Remove the pan from the heat as soon as this happens, and pour the custard through a strainer into a waiting bowl. Stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate until chilled (it will continue to thicken).

To make the meringues and assemble the dessert: Bring the milk to a gentle simmer over medium heat.

While the milk is heating, beat the egg whites, gradually adding the salt and sugar, until they form stiff peaks. Drop rough half-cups of the meringue mixture into the simmering milk. You can form jagged islands, or use two spoons to make somewhat smooth ovals. Let the islands simmer for one minute in the hot milk, then gently turn and simmer for another minute on the second side. Using a slotted spoon, remove the islands from the milk and set to drain on a clean plate. Repeat until all of the meringue is poached. The islands will swell dramatically in their simmer bath, and then shrink disappointingly when they're removed. Serve immediately on a puddle of chilled custard, or place in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours.