Monday, February 7, 2011

Just Dessert *Ile Flottante with Caramel*

Ile Flottante with Caramel

courtesy of

Active Time 35 minutes Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Makes 1 large island and serves 8-10

Safflower oil, for pan

For the meringue

9 large egg whites, room temperature (reserve 4 yolks for making creme anglaise)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
coarse salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Creme Anglaise(makes about 1 1/2 cups)

1 1/4 cups whole milk OR canned coconut milk I decided to try a substitution for the milk.
3/4 cup heavy cream OR canned coconut milk.  I decided to try a substitution for the milk.
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
coarse salt

For the Caramel

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons water


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan with oil, and invert onto a paper towel to drain excess.
  2. Make the meringue: Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Whisk egg whites, cream of tartar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt with a mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Whisk in superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, gradually increasing speed to high. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and whisk in vanilla.
  3. Transfer meringue to pan, pressing to remove air pockets. Smooth with a small offset spatula. Set Bundt pan in a roasting pan; transfer to oven. Carefully pour boiling water into roasting pan to reach 2 inches up sides of Bundt pan. Bake until meringue is puffed and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer Bundt pan to a wire rack. Let cool.
  4. Make the creme anglaise: Combine milk and cream in a saucepan. Scrape vanilla seeds into pan, and add pod. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Pour half the milk mixture into yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return entire mixture to pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.
  5. Unmold meringue onto a cake plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Make the caramel: Fill a medium bowl with cold water. Heat sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a small saucepan over high heat, swirling, until sugar dissolves. Raise heat to high. Bring to a boil. Cook, swirling occasionally, until dark amber, 3 to 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Carefully stir in remaining 1/2 cup water (mixture will sputter), and swirl to combine. Cook until caramel reaches 230 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Dip bottom of pan into bowl of cold water to cease cooking. Drizzle caramel over meringue, then slice, and transfer to plates. Drizzle with creme anglaise.
From Martha Stewart Living, February 2011
Read more at Ile Flottante with Caramel - Martha Stewart Recipes

Considered a "floating island", an ile flottante with caramel is a light and fluffy dessert.  Not rich by any stretch of the imagination, this dessert is sure to polish off a heavy meal with pizazz.  In the February issue of Martha Stewart Living, (refer to page 24 From My Home To Yours) Martha discusses the art of meringue making.
Even though I'm not a meringue lover, I find this dessert to be very striking.  Everyone else in the family loves meringue.  When I say loves, I mean loves.  So tomorrow morning when they wake up, they are in for a treat.  Ile flottante with caramel for breakfast?  Why not?!  One of the many things that I love about Martha is that she never tells you when or where to eat your dessert ;)

Photo Gallery

Superfine sugar is called for and guess what?  I didn't have it.  I found out that I can pulse regular granulated sugar for a minute or two to re-create it.
Fresh, organic brown eggs are my favorite.
I really like this egg separator.  It makes separating the 9 egg whites much easier.
With the extra yolks, I made Chester an omelet.
In high spirits after his meal, Chester is ready for anything.  Heck, he's even ready to bake an ile flottante with caramel.
Getting ready to mix the whites, cream of tartar and salt.
Tasting the coconut milk.  Will it work as a substitute for milk?
Not bad.
I wanted to make the creme anglaise dairy free.  I came to the conclusion that coconut milk would have enough fat to mimic the milk.  I was right!  The creme anglaise turned out to be delicious and creamy even without milk.
The creme anglaise- totally dairy free.  The black specks are vanilla bean.
Making caramel- Don't stir only swirl (as stated in above directions).
Ready to bake
 I'm going to invert the cake onto a wire rack to cool.
Gabriel said, "Mom, why is a piece missing?  A monster ate some!?"  He is so funny.
The Ile Flottante with Caramel
While Gabriel was eating the dessert, I asked him what he thought.  See for yourself.

~Just Dessert~


At approximately 8pm on a Friday night, I had this wild idea.  I was going to whip this dessert up in no time.  Under normal circumstances, I probably would have had better luck.  I did learn a very important lesson.  If you are literally sick and tired (I have been sick with a bad cold), do not walk into the kitchen.  Stay far, far away.  I didn't listen to my inner self.  The dessert seemed pretty achievable.  Come on, it looks like a pretty pile of whipped cream set daintily in a bundt pan. Shouldn't be that hard? 

In the end it took me 4 (*sighing*)  tries to get it kind-of-right. This was a learning experience for sure.  All the time I'm learning from my kitchen.  Like a concerned parent, the kitchen was telling me to go to bed.  If only I had listened, 27 eggs would have not been wasted ( I used 36 total).  Even though I went through (*clearing throat*) several trials, each and every time it was enjoyable because I learned something new. 

 The caramel sauce
Do not stir, only swirl.  The directions even say to swirl. For some strange reason I thought you could stir.  Look what happened!

And it was a re-do everyone...

The Meringue

Ben asked me the same thing.  He was wondering why on earth I thought you should cook the Il Flottante upside down in the water.  Come to find out, I don't know why either.
So I made another one.  I was so proud of my perfect cloud-castle.  Just when I put it onto the cake stand it fell over!  You're joking right?

The next three pictures are of run number 3.  I was exhausted by this point.  At 12:30 AM, everyone was asleep and I was STILL baking.  I sat down and looked at the food processor.  I forgot the sugar in the meringue!!  Here it is...
 Not bad for sugar free meringue ;)
Oh well.  I'd be crazy not to sit down and enjoy the dessert regardless of the lack of perfection. So, at nearly 1 AM , here I am.

As Buzz Lightyear says " Never give up, never surrender".  The fourth time was better, but could have been improved.  I know that If I keep practicing, (and If the stars are aligned) Martha's baking skills will hopefully improve mine.  I'm crossing my fingers (*winks*).

1 comment:

Carl said...

What amazing persistence you possess! It looks like the results are worth it. And will a bad cold yet!. You go girl!

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