The other day, I got given a vanilla pod by the owners of St Giles Cheese in Northampton. They wanted me to try their new arrival of vanilla pods. It was a big fat one, very fragrant.
I absolutely adore fresh vanilla, it’s so delicate in the taste but so strong in the smell.
Anyway, I had to use it but I didn’t really know what to make with it. I wanted something which would make the flavor of the vanilla pod shine and not be overtaken by other ingredients. So I decided to make some Iles flottantes (floating islands).
I’d never made it myself, you can find quite decent ones in supermarkets in France so I never really tried. When I was little, I used to be mad about them (my mum is delighted to tell the stories of me and Iles flottantes).
If you never ate it, it’s something you have to do. It’s a very impressive dessert for dinner parties.
For 6 people, you’ll need:
– 4 eggs, yolk and white separated
– 80g of sugar (for the crème anglaise)+ 90g for the meringue + 50g for the caramel
– 1 vanilla pod, scraped
– 500ml of milk
– 1 tablespoon of water
Make the crème anglaise (runny custard) by heating the milk and the scraped vanilla pod until boiling.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and gently pour the hot vanilla milk while still whisking.
Put it back on a low heat and stir for 5 minutes without boiling. Put it aside and in the fridge for cooling.
For the meringue, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until firm.
Fill a pan with water, simmer it and poach blobs of meringues, 1 minute on each side and put them aside.
Make the caramel by heating sugar and water together until golden brown. Leave it to cool in the fridge.
When you’re serving your dessert, pour some crème anglaise in your serving bowls, then one or two poached meringues and then a tablespoon of caramel, which is going to give the sweetness.
You can make the Iles flottantes the day before you want to eat them and leave them in the fridge