Floating Island

Floating Island

Thank you Julia Child for this classic recipe.

What’s so wonderful about this dessert is you can make all the separate parts ahead of time. I served it recently at a dinner party and just put it together in about 5 minutes when I was ready to serve dessert. Egg whites and sugar are whipped together into a meringue, piled into a casserole, and baked slowly to form a soft, sweet noncollapsible souffle.  Unmold it, carve it into iceberg chunks, and plop it into a sea of custard sauce.  A delicate web of caramel finishes the picture perfect dessert, spectacular but easy.

Serves: 6-8


1 tablespoon softened butter

1/4 cup of sifted icing sugar

The meringue:

1 2/3 cups egg whites(about 12 large egg whites)

A big pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar

1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

The Caramel

2 Cups of Creme Anglaise

Special Equipment:  a straight sided 4 quart baking dish 3 inches deep, and electric mixer.

The meringue may be baked several days in advance and served chilled or at room temperature.


1.  Butter the baking dish, dust it with confectioners sugar, knocking out excess.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

2.  Start beating the egg whites at moderate speed until they foam throughout, beat int he salt and cream of tartar, then gradually increase the speed to fast until soft peaks are formed.

Meringue Whipped to Stiff Peaks

Meringue Whipped to Stiff Peaks

3.  Beat in the sugar by big spoonfuls and continue until stiff shining peaks are formed.  Beat int he vanilla, and turn the meringue into the baking dish.

Whipped Meringue Piled into Baking Dish

Whipped Meringue Piled into Baking Dish

Meringue Spread out in Buttered and Icing Sugar Dusted Baking Dish

Meringue Spread out in Buttered and Icing Sugar Dusted Baking Dish

4.  Bake for 35-40 minutes at 250 degrees F.  Set in the lower middle of the oven and bake until the meringue has risen about 2-3 inches.

The Meringue Finished Baking

The Meringue Finished Baking

5.  It is done when a skewer plunged through it comes out clean. Set the casserole on a rack.  The meringue will sink down to its original height as it cools.

Ahead of time:  Covered airtight, it will keep several days in the refrigerator or several weeks in the freezer.

6.  To serve, pour the custard sauce into a serving platter or individual shallow bowls or plates.  Run a knife around the edge of the meringue dish and push with a rubber spatula to loosen.  Unmold the meringue onto a cookie sheet.  Cut it into 6-8 big chunks and arrange over the sauce.

7.  Just before serving, slowly reheat the caramel until you can lift the syrup with a fork and dribble thick strands over meringue. Now you can serve.

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