This is a simplified version of a French bourgeois classic: islands of fluffy poached meringue floating on a sea of cool custard, trickled with a nice sharp fruit purée.
Black currant is my favorite fruit for the sauce, but raspberries, gooseberries, red currants, blackberries, blueberries, etc. will all do very nicely. The coffee in the meringue is optional, but it does help take the sticky sweet edge off what is a very rich dish. Try it, you’ll be surprised.–Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Floating Islands with Black Currant Sauce Recipe
Hands-On Time: | Total Time: | Serves 8 to 10
- For the custard
- 4 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split open lengthwise
- For the black currant sauce
- 2 pounds black currants
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 to 1 cup superfine sugar
- For the meringue islands
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 1 tablespoon very strong black coffee (optional)
- Fresh fruit, such as raspberries and strawberries (optional)
- Make the custard
- 1. Beat the eggs and egg yolks together with the sugar until well mixed. Put the cream and milk in a heavy saucepan, add the vanilla bean, and scald (bring almost to a boil), then remove the bean and pour the cream and milk over the eggs, whisking all the time.
- 2. Put this custard in a large, heavy pan over a low heat and stir gently until it starts to thicken enough to coat the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat, stir for a further 1 to 2 minutes, strain through a fine sieve into a bowl, and let cool.
- Make the black currant sauce
- 3. Pick over the black currants, removing any twigs, leaves, or stalks, and wash thoroughly. Put them in a pan over low heat with the water and 1/2 cup of the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until they break up. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.
- 4. Let cool a little and rub through a nylon sieve. Taste the resulting purée while it is still warm and stir in more sugar if you think it needs it (remember the custard is sweet, so the sauce should be quite tart). Let cool completely.
- Make the meringue islands
- 5. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Whisk in the sugar a third at a time, plus the coffee if using, and continue whisking until you have a thick, creamy meringue that will keep its shape when scooped.
- 6. Using 2 tablespoons, form the meringue into quenelles (football shapes); this is done by scraping a little heap of the meringue from one spoon to the other — hard to describe but easy to do, with a little practice. Place the meringues, 2 or 3 at a time, in a wide pan of gently simmering water. Cover the pan and poach the meringues for about 2 minutes, until puffed up and lightly set. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.
- 7. While the meringues are poaching, have ready some individual serving plates or shallow bowls in which you have poured a pool of cold custard. Float a couple of meringues on each pool of custard and drizzle 2 or 3 tablespoons of the Black Currant Sauce over the top. Decorate with extra fruit such as fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries, if you like.
Floating Islands with Black Currant Sauce Recipe © 2008 Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Photo © 2008 Simon Wheeler. All rights reserved.