Recipe for Ile flottante from France

Ile flottante is a dessert that features very widely on French restaurants menus, but is often not of such great quality...but can and should be delicious. Consists of fluffy soft egg-white 'floating' on a sea of custard. But custard needs constant attention, and the eggs need to be just right, so this is a recipe to practice a bit before the dinner party...


1.5 cups of milk

split vanilla pod

3 eggs, separated

115g caster sugar


Make the 'islands':


  • Beat the egg whites in a clean dry bowl, with a little pinch of salt, until the eggs have firm peaks.
  • Continue beating the eggs, while slowly adding the remaining 40gm of sugar.
  • The eggs can now be put into boiling water to cook or, quicker and cleaner, cooked in a microwave on low power for 45 seconds. An alternative is to poach spoonfuls of the egg white mix in the hot milk for 2 minutes, before adding the egg yolks to make the custard. (Note: the egg-white can be cooked as a normal meringue if preferred - in a very low cooker for an hour or so - popular, but not really very traditional...)

Make the custard:


  • Heat the milk over a low-medium heat, with the vanilla pod. Heat until slightly bubbling, then remove from the heat.
  • In a bowl, mix well the egg yolks and 75gm of the sugar, then pour on the hot milk and mix well. Pour the mixture into a clean saucepan, and heat over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. It should not boil during this time. After a fex minutes the custard will have thickened (about the consistency of double cream).
  • Pour into a jug and remove the vanilla pod.
  • The custard can now be put into bowls, and the islands placed on top. The ile flottante are now ready to eat straight away.