Île Flottante With Coconut Crème Anglaise
If you’re not as concerned about keeping your dessert kosher, I like a little pat of optional butter that’s added to the caramel in the end. I think it adds a little something, however, I’ve made it without and it works just fine. Just watch the caramel carefully as it goes from perfectly ready to burnt in about five seconds (and I’m not exaggerating). Also, a reader, below, asked about regular creme anglaise. I won’t attempt to reinvent the wheel here. If you want to make this traditional (dairy) way, then use 1 cup milk and 1 cup heavy cream instead of coconut milk and I like 6 egg yolks here with the dairy version instead of the 4 below.
For the Coconut Crème Anglaise:
2 cups (473 ml) coconut milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
For the Meringue:
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups light coconut milk (or milk, or water, see Note)
For the Caramel:
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter, optional
Make the Crème Anglaise:
1. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, bring the coconut milk, vanilla seeds and pod to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 20 minutes. Remove the vanilla pods and set aside. Warm the milk mixture again until small bubbles form.
2. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks and sugar until thick and pale. While whisking, drizzle the warm dairy mixture into the egg yolks, mixing it in. Add half the coconut milk mixture before pouring the custard back into the pot. Set it over low heat, stirring without stopping with a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and hold a line drawn by your finger, about 5 minutes. Pass custard through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Place bowl in ice-water bath; stir crème anglaise occasionally until chilled. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and preferably for 24, before using. The time in the refrigerator will intensify the crème anglaise flavors.
Make the Meringue:
3. Bring the coconut milk to a bare simmer. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat the egg whites with salt and cream of tartar at medium speed until they turn opaque and start to thicken. With the mixer still going, gradually add the sugar and when all sugar is incorporated, add the vanilla. Increase the speed to high and beat the egg whites until they have firm peaks but are still glossy.
4. Spray a large serving spoon or ladle with cooking spray and scoop some of the meringue. Gently lower the scoop into the simmering water and dislodge the meringue from the ladle. Let the meringue float gently in the water, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Using a slotted spoon, gently remove the meringue from the water and let it rest until cool. The meringue can be made a few hours ahead. You can also cook several meringue “islands” at a time – making sure they have enough room to float about.
Make the Caramel:
5. When ready to serve, in a light-colored, medium, heavy-bottomed pan set over medium-high heat, melt the sugar and cook, swirling the pan occasionally (not stirring) until the caramel turns the color of a copper penny. If any sugar crystallizes on the side of the pan, gently wipe it with a clean pastry brush dipped in cold water. Remove from heat and stir in butter, if using. If using butter, stand back – the mixture will bubble and hiss. When the bubbles die down, using a silicon spatula, stir the caramel until smooth.
Assemble the Île Flottante:
6. Spoon some crème anglaise over the bottom of a plate and settle a meringue “island” in the center. Using a fork or a small whisk, drizzle with caramel and serve immediately. The caramel should harden almost immediately, giving you a pleasant crackle when you try spoon some of the meringue with the crème anglaise.