French Fridays with Dorie: Floating islands (Île Flottante)

Dorie Greenspan Ile Flottante on eatlivetravelwrite.com

I remember the first time I tried this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe (p 427) – île flottante – floating islands, sounds so much less romantic in English!  It was back in 1988 when I was an exchange student living in Brussels and my host family had taken me out for dinner. They insisted I try this “special dessert” but I’d never heard of it. I struggled to understand the description (a combination of French, English and gestures – it was one of my first months in the country and even though I could fluently read French and understand most conversations, cooking vocabulary was not part of what we learned in Grade 12 French!) but soon it became apparent that I might just like this. A lot.  Fluffy meringue, floating in a pool of crème anglaise and topped with a caramel sauce? Strange but delicious. Sign me up! The plate that arrived was much more fancy than I had been expecting and I felt very chic as I ate my strangely named dessert!

Ile Flottante from Around my French Table on eatlivetravelwrite.com

It’s actually pretty easy to make – though it has three components (meringue, crème anglaise and the caramel). For the two of us, I halved the recipe and made two meringues only in 4″ springform pans. I found these just a tad large for a single serving because it is a fairly sweet dessert. But you know, we soldiered on and finished them! This recipe called for the meringue to be baked in the oven as opposed to poached in milk and I think I prefer this style – I’ve eaten the poached ones once but I prefer the slightly more cooked oven-baked meringue.

Ile flottante for French Fridays with Dorie on eatlivetravelwrite.com

The crème anglaise, on the other hand, I could easily have made the full amount and, well, just sipped on the stuff. I know – shameful but there is a dessert I used to buy in France that came with a “petit pot” of crème anglaise liquide (like this one) and it was all I could do to wait to serve the dessert instead of simply drinking the crème anglaise! Apparently someone else in our house agrees!

Ile flottante for French Fridays with Dorie from Around my French Table on eatlivetravelwrite.com

For the caramel, I used cajeta which I found lurking in the back of the fridge (amazing the things you find when you are forced to clean out your old fridge because you are getting a new one!) and it was perfect. I do like a proper caramel topping because I find the dessert does need some crunch – it’s a fairly soft dessert otherwise – but this was more than adequate as I prepared to go back to work after 10 week off! Easy was more than welcome!

Would I make these again? Absolutely, for a dinner party and with proper caramel – they do have a certain “wow” factor for sure!

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33 Responses to French Fridays with Dorie: Floating islands (Île Flottante)

  1. Liz August 30, 2013 at 07:36 #

    Beautiful, Mardi! I prefer the oven baked method, too 🙂

  2. Cakelaw August 30, 2013 at 07:55 #

    I like the baked version better too. Love the caramel sauce on yours!

  3. andrea janssen August 30, 2013 at 08:31 #

    Wow they are. Yours look great!

  4. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes August 30, 2013 at 08:59 #

    I always make it in a caramelized tube pan, but am glad it looks so pretty in a regular one too! It’s lovely Mardi! And can’t beat store bought cajeta when you want a caramel flavor. Have a great weekend!

  5. Adriana @ GreatFood360° August 30, 2013 at 09:09 #

    I’ve never had poached meringue before and now am intrigued. This used to be part of my Mom’s rotation of fancy desserts whenever we had company many years ago. I will definitely try a scaled back version soon!

  6. Mr. Neil August 30, 2013 at 09:23 #

    Mardi offered this to me one night this week, when having just roasted a chicken, I was “angling” for some sort of dessert to magically appear. For some inexplicable reason, she pronounced: “you won’t like it”.


    Let me just say, Mr. Neil likes this. A lot. As does Cleo…who shared the creme anglais in the bowl when I was done. 😉

    • Mardi Michels August 30, 2013 at 09:29 #

      Right, I edited the post to reflect that piece about Cleo.

  7. Jacqueline August 30, 2013 at 09:53 #

    I’ve never had those beofre, but boy how I want to try them now! Just look at them. Wow! just Wow!

  8. Cher August 30, 2013 at 12:09 #

    I am sure that soldiering through this was tough… Beautifully done!

    (Yes, I think I do need you to help me find Seattle. We really need to meet up one time when you are “south of the border”)

  9. Tricia August 30, 2013 at 22:56 #

    Your caramel drizzling was perfect 🙂 And I loved your story of how you were introduced to this dessert – it makes it even more special. Good luck with la re-entre to work !!

  10. claudine August 31, 2013 at 05:02 #

    My mum was French, she made this quite often – so yummy, and I remember eating it in the motorway cafes in France! 😛

  11. Rose August 31, 2013 at 05:51 #

    I also thought that these would be perfect for a dinner party. In addition to wow factor, they are also made ahead of time, which is always a big plus when entertaining.

  12. Kathy August 31, 2013 at 07:11 #

    Simply beautiful! I poached mine because I had never tried that method before. I thought they were delicious…however, I will probably bake them next time. Just easier!

  13. Paula August 31, 2013 at 09:49 #

    It is a very elegant dessert isn’t it? I’ve only had it once, made by my SIL and it was wonderful. Yours is picture perfect Mardi.

  14. Nana August 31, 2013 at 12:58 #

    That looks fantastic, a perfect dessert.

  15. Christy @ Confessions of a Culinary Diva August 31, 2013 at 17:18 #

    So elegant, and beautiful. I agree they are a tad sweet and smaller is better – but the presentation is just lovely.

  16. Betsy August 31, 2013 at 20:45 #

    Yours is the prettiest one I’ve seen yet. I’m still working up the courage/enthusiasm for this one, but your smaller version is motivating me to try a single serving this weekend.

  17. Winnie August 31, 2013 at 22:29 #

    This right here is my most favorite dessert ever! Once summer when I was a kid, my parents dragged me and my brother throughout France for 3 weeks to eat lunch and dinner at every 3 star restaurant. I ate Ile Flottante at pretty much every meal 😉 I need to make this at home!

  18. Trevor Sis. Boom. September 1, 2013 at 00:06 #

    Oven baked is soooo the way to go. I like the small versions you did as well… but I know they are so sweet!

    • Mardi Michels November 10, 2013 at 18:08 #

      I would never poach them – love the cripsiness of the oven baked ones!

  19. Kalyan September 1, 2013 at 06:57 #

    looks delicious….just mouthwatering!

  20. Marlene September 1, 2013 at 17:07 #

    I’ve been meaning to make these for years, and one of these days I just may. Looks like a perfect dessert for a dinner party, although I think I might go with somewhat smaller meringues … you know, so there’s more room for the Creme Anglaise

  21. Teresa September 2, 2013 at 03:43 #

    I think the oven-baked version wins, hands down. The smaller versions are much more elegant than the wedges carved out of a larger one, too.

    • Mardi Michels November 10, 2013 at 18:07 #

      I agree – thought that was weird to have the “slices” !

  22. yummychunklet September 3, 2013 at 20:28 #

    What a gorgeous island!

  23. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction September 4, 2013 at 21:19 #

    Ha! I have to laugh because my mom came back from a work dinner one time and insisted I had to go to the restaurant and try this “island” dessert she had. I’m not normally much of a meringue fan, but I did like it. I’ve never made it myself, though… I think I’ll have to give it a try!

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