Raymond cooks

Floating Islands ‘Maman Blanc’

Preparation time:
40 minutes
Cooking time:
25 minutes
4 serves

This is one of the most celebrated desserts in France - a true classic and one I cherish from my childhood. Maman Blanc used to make this for the family on special occasions. My brothers, sisters and I were amazed by the ‘fluffy clouds’ floating in the ‘vanilla sea’. I recall never-ending lunches with adults talking about politics and other serious subjects, whilst us kids sat and longed for îles flottantes to arrive. Later, when I had children of my own – my lovely Olivier and Sebastien - we visited Maman in France often and oh did their faces light up as the îles flottantes approached the table, just as mine had. Needless to say, this is a great favourite of ours and I am certain will be passed down the Blanc family for many years to come. 

The beauty of this dessert is in all the different tastes and textures – the rich and silky crème anglaise, topped by clouds of fluffy poached meringue, and at the last moment the warm caramel is poured. It is amazing how you will find it on the menu at home, in small brasseries and in Michelin star restaurants alike. And what joy – no longer having to whisk all those egg whites by hand like Maman used to do. Your Kenwood Chef, and its wonderfully engineered whisk, will do it quickly and beautifully, and with total precision, leaving you more time to enjoy the results with your family and friends.

  • Ingredients

    For the Vanilla Milk:
    • 1.3 litres organic whole milk
    • 1 tbsp vanilla syrup or the best vanilla extract
    For the Meringues:
    • 6 organic/ free-range medium egg whites
    • 12 drops of lemon juice
    • 100g caster sugar
    For the Crème Anglaise:
    • 1 litre vanilla milk (saved from poaching the meringues)
    • 85g caster sugar
    • 1/4ea Lemon juice 240g
    • 10 organic/ free-range medium egg yolks
    • Splash of Kirsch (optional)
    For the Caramel:
    • 50ml water
    • 175g caster sugar
  • Method

    For the Vanilla Milk:
    • Pour the milk into a large shallow saucepan, add the vanilla syrup (or vanilla extract) and heat gently to a bare simmer to infuse.

    For the Meringues:
    • Meanwhile, using your Kenwood Chef mixer on medium speed with the whisk attached, whisk the egg whites with the lemon juice1 to soft peaks, then slowly add the sugar, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk until the meringue holds firm peaks.

    • To poach the meringues - Using a large spoon dipped in hot water, scoop large dollops of meringue and place in the vanilla milk. (Alternatively you can shape smooth quenelles of meringue between two spoons dipped in hot water). Poach the meringues in the shimmering milk2 for 4 to 5 minutes on each side3. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a tray lined with non-stick baking paper to drain. Strain and reserve the poaching milk to make the crème anglaise.

    For the Crème Anglaise:
    • In a medium pan, bring the vanilla milk to a gentle simmer over a medium heat with 2 tsp of the sugar added4. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar together until well mixed. Pour the hot milk onto the eggs, whisking constantly, and then pour back into the same saucepan5. Place over a medium-low heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the custard begins to thicken and coats the back of your spoon6. Immediately strain into a large bowl set over ice to stop the cooking. Leave the custard to cool, stirring occasionally. For an extra luxurious touch, finish the crème anglaise with a splash of Kirsch.

    • To assemble, pour the crème anglaise into individual wide serving bowls and arrange the poached meringues on top. Leave in the fridge while you make the caramel.

    • For the Caramel:
      • Place the water into a small saucepan, add the sugar and leave for a few minutes to allow the water to be absorbed, then dissolve over a low heat7. Increase the heat to medium and cook the sugar syrup to a rich caramel8. Immediately remove from the heat and dip the base of the pan in cold water for 8–10 seconds to arrest the cooking.

      • To serve, trickle the caramel decoratively over the meringues and serve at once.

      For Variations:
      • Flavour the crème anglaise with grated lemon zest, or grated orange zest and a splash of Grand Marnier, or melted chocolate.

  • Chef's Notes

    • The meringues and crème anglaise (custard) can be made up to a day in advance should you wish.
    • Whisking egg whites using your Kenwood Chef will increase the volume by trapping tiny air bubbles inside the protein network. The whisk is designed specifically for this task and is more efficient than whisking by hand. However, be careful not to over-whisk the egg whites as they will become thick and grainy, lose volume and separate into a dry froth and a runny liquid.
    • When poaching meringues ensure your vanilla milk is at a shimmer, i.e. just under a simmer. If the liquid is too hot, the meringues will soufflé dramatically and then deflate just as fast. Poach them gently and they will hold their shape and keep their fluffy texture.
    • If you are unsure whether the meringue is cooked, check the centre of the meringue with a temperature probe - it should read 83°C.
    • I always add a little sugar, 10g or so per litre, to the milk before heating; this prevents the milk proteins from sticking and burning on the bottom of the pan.
    • When you are making a custard, always pour the hot milk/cream mixture onto the cold beaten eggs before returning to the pan to cook through. If you reverse this process you are in danger of scrambling the eggs before the sauce has had a chance to thicken.
    • If your custard starts to scramble a little at the bottom of the pan as you cook it, immediately pour into a Kenwood Chef food processor attachment (be careful not to over-fill) and process until smooth again. Pour into a bowl over crushed ice to cool quickly.
    • To prevent sugar crystallising when you make caramel, first place a little water in the bottom of the pan, add the sugar on top and let this absorb the water.
    • Because the caramel is made in a dark pan, it can look darker than it actually is. Take a spoonful or pour a little onto a white plate. If you undercook your caramel it will be pale, too sweet and lacking in character. You need to cook it almost to a smoking point, then it will be dark brown, with a wonderful, characteristic bitter-sweet caramel flavour.

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