A floating island is a custard "lake" with poached
meringues "islands" floating atop it, a classic
European dessert. In this case, the custard is rich and chocolate.
need a candy thermometer for the custard, a slotted spoon, and
large frying pan in which to poach the meringues. While poaching
is an unusual technique for cooking meringues, it isn't difficult
and it doesn't take long. The completed custard will keep in
the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days, but the dessert should be
assembled just before serving. A pretty dessert that tastes
good, too, is nice for spring.
6 to 8 servings
ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
ounce good-quality unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
cup heavy cream
egg, graded "large", plus 1 egg yolk
cup granulated sugar
cup plus 2 Tbsp. whole milk
egg whites, from eggs graded "large", at room
cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
poaching the meringues:
shaved or grated semisweet chocolate
Custard: In medium heatproof bowl, combine finely chopped
chocolates. In a small saucepan over low heat, heat cream until
very hot, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; pour about
half over chocolates. Let stand for a minute or two, then whisk
gently until smooth. (If necessary, place a bowl with chocolates
over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch the
bottom of the bowl). Whisk often until just melted and smooth.
Remove from heat and hot water.) Gradually whisk in remaining
cream. Set aside near stovetop.
a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine egg and yolk, sugar,
salt, and about 1/4 cup milk. With a spoon, beat until well-mixed.
Gradually stir in remaining milk. Place over medium heat; cook,
stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 174 to 175 degrees
F on a candy thermometer--no higher! Immediately remove from
about one-fourth of the hot custard through a fine strainer
into the chocolate mixture; whisk gently to combine well. Gradually,
in several more additions, pour the remaining hot custard through
the fine strainer into the chocolate mixture. Scrape the bottom
and sides of the bowl thoroughly once or twice during this process.
When ingredients are blended, gently whisk in vanilla. Pour
into pitcher or liquid measuring cup with at least a three-cup
capacity. Cool briefly, then chill until very cold, at least
6 hours. When custard is cold, cover the pitcher with a circle
of paper towel cut slightly larger than top dimensions of pitcher,
then cover with plastic wrap (the paper towel will absorb any
condensation that might form, which would otherwise fall back
into the custard). Chill custard until needed.
90 minutes before serving, set the egg whites for the meringues
at room temperature; let stand in small or medium, grease-free
bowl, covered, for at least one hour. Have ready 6 to 8 dessert
plates; they should be mostly flat, but must have shallow sides.
Have ready the shaved semisweet chocolate and the strawberries
for serving. Have ready a large (12" diameter) nonreactive
frying pan and a slotted spoon for poaching the meringues. Line
a cookie or baking sheet with about 6 layers of paper towel,
and set aside near the stovetop.
finish dessert, pour 5 cups water into the large frying pan;
cover and set over medium-high heat. When water steams, reduce
heat to low, recover and start meringue. With sturdy, hand-held
electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt at high speed until
very foamy, white, and increased in volume. Gradually add sugar,
about one tablespoon at a time, beating between additions. Continue
beating at high speed to stiff peaks.
cover from frying pan; water should be steaming, but not boiling.
Working quickly, drop heaping tablespoons of the meringue into
the steaming water (I put about 6 in at one time). When last
meringue has been placed in the water, start timing. Poach meringues
for 2 minutes. Gently turn them over with a large slotted spoon;
poach for one minute on the second side. Using a slotted spoon,
remove from water and place on a paper-towel-lined cookie sheet
to drain and cool. Repeat procedure with remaining uncooked
meringue; you want to make two "islands" per serving,
or a total of 12 to 16. Allow poached meringues to cool completely
(this doesn't take long).
serve, divide chilled custard evenly among serving plates. With
slotted spoon or clean hands, gently and carefully pick up two
meringue "islands" from the cookie sheet and place
on top of each plate of custard. Sprinkle with the shaved semisweet
chocolate, and place a strawberry or two (washed and well-dried)
on each plate (or pass berries separately). Serve immediately.
Stephanie Zonis provides the above information to anyone, but
retains copyright on all text. This means that you may not:
distribute the text to others without the express written permission
of Stephanie Zonis; "mirror" or include this information
on your own server or documents without my permission; modify
or re-use the text on this system. You MAY: print copies of
the information for your own personal use; store the files on
your own computer for your personal use only; reference hypertext
documents on this server from your own documents.