Ile Flottante: Floating Island Dessert

With the four eggs I had leftover from my Wegmans 2 Cheap Chicks Challenge, I made Ile Flottante, a beautiful and rich French dessert. This simplistic yet sophisticated dessert is not that difficult to make, it does need attention to detail though as it is easy to scramble the egg mixture while cooking. I had fun making the poached meringues as I have never done anything like that before. This recipe is a conglomeration of many I found on the Internet, but mostly Ina Garten’s. I will explain step by step how I made this fantastic dessert so that you can replicate this in your own kitchen. Take notes!

For the Meringues:

Beat 4 egg whites, pinch Kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar until frothy. Turn mixer on high and add 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla. Beat until stiff and glossy.

In a saucepan over med heat, heat 1 3/4 cups milk just to scalding, do not boil. You will be making 6 large dollops of meringue so portion carefully. Place 2 dollops at a time in the scalded milk and poach for one minute on each side, turning each “island” using 2 spoons. Remove using a slotted spoon to a foil lined jelly roll pan. Make the other four islands in the same manner. Place the islands in a warm, 200° oven while making the Cream Anglais. This will further set the meringues, about 15 minutes. Pour the scalded milk through a sieve into a measuring cup. Add more milk to equal 1 3/4 cups if necessary. This will stay warm enough for the crème anglaise.

For the Crème Anglaise:

In a clean mixing bowl, beat 4 egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add 1 tsp. cornstarch. While still on low add that scalded milk from the poaching process, 1 3/4 cups. Pour this custard into a clean saucepan and cook over low heat. (I quickly washed out the saucepan while the yolks were beating.) Stir constantly with a spoon until thickened. Do not boil or the eggs will scramble and separate. The finished custard will coat the back of a spoon and not run when your finger is swiped through it. See above photo. Pour the sauce through fine strainer into a bowl, I used the sieve I had used to strain the scalded milk. Add 1 1/2 tsp. Cognac and 1 tsp. vanilla. I did not add vanilla, I added 5 drops of Fiori di Sicilia which was amazing!

To Serve:

I consumed my first serving while warm and it was excellent. Later in the day I ate one cold. Yes I had two in one day, got a problem with that? Either way they are both excellent.

Serve Warm?- To serve warm plate immediately after making by dividing the Crème Anglaise evenly between 6 dessert plates. Top with a Meringue Island and decorate with a mint sprig.

Serve Chilled?- This is the traditional way and easier to do for guests. Cover the bowl of Crème Anglaise and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Also the Islands can be placed on a plate, covered, and refrigerated then used to serve later. Beware that they are delicate and may break, so handle carefully. If they do break use the bigger prettier piece for the dessert or give your guest two islands!

I also served this in a large 10 ounce martini glasses by placing a smaller piece of Island to float on top. Very pretty.

I think your guests may enjoy this very classic French dessert.

Tomorrow in BRK: How I made Papperadelle noodles.


  1. recipes2share
    Posted January 20, 2009 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

    A favourite dessert of my daughter & your photo's look fabulous!

  2. That Girl
    Posted January 20, 2009 at 12:32 PM | Permalink

    I feel like I could make these since I’ve made both meringues and creme anglaise!

  3. biz319
    Posted January 20, 2009 at 1:16 PM | Permalink

    Look delish, as usual!

    Can’t wait for tomorrows post – I have been wanting to try homemade pasta.

    The chicken fried steak turned out good! Not as crispy, but delicious – I think the cube steak made it! (last time I used round steak – it was so tough!)

  4. Karen
    Posted January 20, 2009 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

    These look so fancy – what a great dessert to bring to the table!

  5. Sabrina
    Posted January 20, 2009 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

    amazing! you make this look doable.

  6. Tanya
    Posted January 20, 2009 at 3:31 PM | Permalink

    These look gorgeous and I bet they’d look great in a martini glass! What a great dessert!

  7. Theresa
    Posted January 20, 2009 at 3:56 PM | Permalink

    Sophisticated indeed. Looks like it came from a 5 star restaurant!

  8. noble pig
    Posted January 20, 2009 at 5:42 PM | Permalink

    It’s so simple and elegant. I would love to serve it with candlelight and white linens. Just beautiful.

  9. Grace
    Posted January 20, 2009 at 7:34 PM | Permalink

    this is so sophisticated and impressive, robin sue. i applaud your mad talent. 🙂

  10. Nicole
    Posted January 20, 2009 at 9:42 PM | Permalink

    This is so pretty. I have never been a huge fan of meringues but I always think it looks gorgeous. Years ago at a French restaurant I worked at, they served these amazing waffles with creme anglais. I always think of them….

  11. Lisa
    Posted January 21, 2009 at 2:05 AM | Permalink

    Wow! This looks so pretty and sounds like it would taste divine. I hope to try it soon.

  12. pigpigscorner
    Posted January 22, 2009 at 6:55 AM | Permalink

    Simple and elegant dish! Looks really good!

  13. Anonymous
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 5:20 PM | Permalink

    I just made this with your recipe! It was a little more challenging than I thought but it tastes great…it may not look the best, but it tastes great! Next time I will work on presentation. I can tell that now I have done it once the next time will be easier; I’ll know what to expect. Thanks so much!

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