Floating Islands

These clouds of meringue floating in caramel sauce are a classic French bistro dessert. The fact that Bourdain had nothing to say about it in this space leaves us wondering: Did this confection actually leave the loud-mouth chef speechless?–Anthony Bourdain with Jose de Meirelles & Phillippe Lajaunie

Floating Islands Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 4


  • For the meringue
  • 8 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 10 ounces sugar
  • For the sauce
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 ounce slivered almonds


  • Make the meringue
  • 1. Place the egg whites in the bowl of the mixer and add the salt. Using the whisk attachment, mix the whites slowly to break them up, then increase the speed and beat them until they hold soft peaks. Reduce the speed and slowly add 6 ounces (168 grams) of the sugar. Continue beating until the sugar is incorporated and the eggs once again hold soft peaks.
  • 2. Place the milk in the large, shallow pan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Using the two large spoons, scoop 12 “quenelles” from the egg whites and gently add them to the simmering milk to poach, 2 minutes per side. Carefully remove the quenelles, place them on the plate lined with paper towels, and set aside to drain and cool. Reserve the milk.
  • Make the sauce (Crème Anglaise)
  • 3. Strain the milk into the small pot, adding more milk if necessary so that you have exactly 2 cups (450 milliliters). Add the vanilla bean and bring the milk back to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the vanilla infuse into the milk.
  • 4. Meanwhile, in the medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining 4 ounces (112 grams) of sugar. Bring the milk back to a boil and, while whisking the yolk mixture, add to it half the boiling milk. Once this mixture is homogenous, add it back to the pot with the remaining milk, whisking constantly. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the mixture constantly, using a figure-eight motion and making sure to reach all edges of the pot. Continue to stir over low heat until the mixture coats the back of the spoon.
  • 5. Remove the sauce from the heat, discard the vanilla pod, and carefully place the pot into the ice-water bath, making sure that the water does not leak into the custard.
  • To serve
  • 6. Place 3 quenelles in the center of each of the four soup bowls. Ladle Crème Anglaise into each bowl. Garnish with slivered almonds and serve immediately.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Hey, there. Just a reminder that all our content is copyright protected. Like a photo? Please don't use it without our written permission. Like a recipe? Kindly contact the publisher listed above for permission before you post it (that's what we did) and rewrite it in your own words. That's the law, kids. And don't forget to link back to this page, where you found it. Thanks!

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Send it along. Covet one of those spiffy pictures of yourself to go along with your comment? Get a free Gravatar. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Rate this recipe!

Have you tried this recipe?
Let us know what you think.