Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Floating Islands - Tuesdays with Dorie

floating island in shape of a heart

I didn't really know what to expect from this week's TWD recipe, chosen by Shari of Whisk: a Food Blog, except that it was going to be interesting! Shari is always so creative with her baking, and this recipe, at least according to the photo in the book, looks as beautiful and fragile as any fancy dessert. As it turns out, it was a bit (JUST a bit) more hardy than it looks, but still very beautiful!

As you can see above, I attempted to make hearts for Valentine's Day (which is also my birthday!) That is the only one that came out looking like a heart. In other words, I stopped being patient enough to use the cookie cutter ;) I also forgot to dye the meringue pink with my powdered food coloring... sigh!


floating islands with ladle

Since A. is a Simpsons fanatic, of course he kept quoting the "I'd like a single plum, floating in perfume, served in a man's hat" line. I expected no less;) He was very impressed with both the taste and looks of this dessert (as was I!)

single floating island

The journey towards this dessert began by making some crème anglaise. I'd never made it before, but it seemed fairly easy, since I'd made pastry cream successfully. Basically, some boiled milk is whisked into egg yolks and sugar (after tempering), and that cooks on the stove top with constant stirring until thick.

It began well...

boiling milk

Eggs and sugar whisked together...

egg yolks and sugar

The boiled milk is poured in a little at a time until tempered, and then the rest is slowly poured in while whisking to create this mixture:

yolks, sugar and milk

And then it is heated until... wha???

curdled creme anglaise

People, this is NOT what you want to end up with. Dorie's recipe said to take the mixture to 180°, but I never got there, so I just kept going until disaster struck. I didn't want to waste it, though, so I did some online searching and found this recipe, which says you can blend in a food processor if it curdles. So, I just mixed it with my stick blender and called it a day ;)

blending the creme anglaise

I'm sure the texture wasn't superb, but it still tasted amazing!

finished creme anglaise

The next day, I whipped up the lovely meringue. I used Dorie's trick of microwaving the egg whites (left over from the crème anglaise) in short bursts until they were room temperature. Meanwhile, the poaching milk was on the stovetop getting to a simmer.

just-whipped meringue

I had to do something Valentine-y, so I decided to experiment with a heart cookie cutter. It actually worked better than I expected it to! The meringue keeps its shape pretty well, especially if you don't leave it in the poaching liquid too long so it totally expands.

heart cookie cutter

heart meringue in milk

Here are the puffy meringues as they cooled, and some of my kitchen aftermath!

cooling meringues

kitchen aftermath

When the meringues had chilled in the fridge long enough, I made the caramel to drizzle on top. You have to be quick, because the cooling caramel became hard as a rock in a matter of minutes!

Here is the converted recipe and [hidden] nutrition info. I'm excluding the caramel, because I barely used any of it, and whatever, it's a garnish! ;) I calculated in 1/4 cup of milk to represent the poaching liquid — not sure exactly how much ended up in the finished product.

Crème anglaise:
2 cups whole milk (475 ml)
6 large egg yolks (100 g)
100 g sugar (1/2 c)
1 1/2 t vanilla extract

Meringue Islands:
2 cups milk (475 ml)
4 large egg whites (135 g or 3/4 cup), at room temperature
pinch of salt
50 g sugar (1/4 c)

Caramel (optional):
100g sugar (1/2 c)
1/3 c water (80 ml)

[click for the rest of the recipe]

Nutrition Facts from NutritionData.com:
per serving, 1/6th of recipe
[click to show or hide]

At least there is more protein than usual... ;) Darn egg yolks!

meringue close-up

Thanks to Shari for picking this delicious recipe, which I'm sure I would have been way too scared to try by myself! Go check out the recipe on her blog, and then the rest of the TWD blogroll!

meringue heart with red ribbon


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A fantastic dessert! Last week, I made Floating Islands for the very first time with a friend and we loved it! your pictures are amazing...



Anonymous said...

Oh myyyy that is amazing!! It looks so good! <333

Rajkumar said...

Amazing desert I want to eat it.

send flowers

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a way to celebrate Valentine's. MY hubby will be so impressed..this recipe is perfect for my Valentine's dinner!!!!

natalia said...

Your heart shaped meringue is superb !! Complimenti !

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

Spectacular, as always.

Isabelle Lambert said...

vraiment magnifique !

Sabrina said...

Beautiful Job! I love the heart shape, so pretty!
Happy Early Birthday! :)

Pamela said...

First of all...nice save with the creme! Everything looks beautiful and I LOVE that last photo. Great job!

Lady Baker said...

hearts--fabulous idea,I love it--happy birthday!!!

Nancy/n.o.e said...

I saved my curdled creme and now I'll blend it up for dessert! Not planning to make any more meringues, though. Love your heart and your caramel is breathtaking!

spike. said...

I'm impressed with the hearts! Shaping the islands was one of the trickiest parts but looks like you did it well

Banjo said...

Lovely! I had to skip this one, but good to hear it was delicious. :)

Anonymous said...

love the hearts. happy early birthday!!! (valentines day is also my sister's and my aunt's birthday). how cool to be a valentines baby!

Amy of Sing For Your Supper said...

Wow, it really looks fantastic! I skipped this week because honestly, these look like a pain in the butt to make. But I'm keeping the recipe bookmarked for definite future use! Yours looks amazing, really!


Unknown said...

I love your photos. Your dessert looks wonderful, especially that caramel!

Anonymous said...

Looks great as usual. Nice save on the creme anglaise. I also love the hearts, they held their shape nicely.

chocolatechic said...

I just love the hearts.


Anonymous said...

Happy birthday! Enjoy!

Your floating islands look gorgeous. Great job!

Marthe said...

Happy Birthday!!

Your floating islands look absolutely perfect!

Maria said...

I love the hearts!! Super cute!! Happy Birthday!!

Anonymous said...

Nice save on your crème anglaise! I love the heart-shaped meringues and your caramel drizzle is beautiful.

Cathy said...

SO gorgeous; of course, I expect nothing less from you. The hearts are very cool and so seasonally appropriate (happy bday, BTW!!), and you totally saved that creme anglaise! Caramel looks great too! And heck, those nutritional facts almost make this sound like a health food compared to some of the stuff that we make around here!

Di said...

Gorgeous pictures--I love the hearts. =) Happy early birthday!

Michael Jin said...

love the heart shape island. awesome photos as usual. great work.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! I think the heart shapes are great, and the photos are magnificent (as always)!!!

Ivette said...

Happy early birthday!!! I LOVE they way your pictures came out.. and that heart shaped island is gorgeous.. you really can tell its a heart. I'm glad you liked this dessert. I didn't have such high expectations for it but when I tasted that cream.. oh my goodness.. I was totally hooked!

The Food Librarian said...

absolutely beautiful!!!! these are sooo cute! happy birthday and valentine's day!!

Anonymous said...

awww...so pretty!

TeaLady said...

Beautiful. Love the hearts. Great Job.

Pamela said...

Me again...I would like to share some awards with you, so stop by soon!

Linda said...

Nice recovery on the creme anglaise! I'm a little behind this week, and I'm looking forward to trying this recipe this weekend.

Anonymous said...

The hearts are really sweet (no pun intended), especially for Valentine's Day. Happy Birthday, too!

RecipeGirl said...

Whoa- that looks like it was quite an involved recipe! Kudos to you for getting a heart out of all of that. They turned out beautiful in the end!

Katie said...

The name of this blog is 100% perfect - your photography is absolutely scrumptious!

Maris said...

If you hadn't showed us the curdled creme we never would have known! Your final product looks great and I bet it was delicious.

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