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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...

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups of milk
  • split vanilla pod
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 115g caster sugar

Make the 'islands':

Method

  1. Beat the egg whites in a clean dry bowl, with a little pinch of salt, until the eggs have firm peaks.
  2. Continue beating the eggs, while slowly adding the remaining 40gm of sugar.
  3. 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:

Method

  1. Heat the milk over a low-medium heat, with the vanilla pod. Heat until slightly bubbling, then remove from the heat.
  2. 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).
  3. Pour into a jug and remove the vanilla pod.
  4. The custard can now be put into bowls, and the islands placed on top. The ile flottante are now ready to eat straight away.
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