Floating Island (ILE Flottante)…simplicity at it’s best

Leave it to the french to come up with an elegant dessert that is worthy to be on any
fancy restaurant menu and simple enough for homemakers.

For the Ile Flottante, or Floating Island,
the crème anglaise represents the water
and the meringue represents the floating island. How cool!

Later in the post, I’ll share with you some photos of my pastry days at The French Culinary Institute in New York City. More photos can be found on my blog, Baking is my Zen. (my blogger.com account)

I love this dessert. Of the three components,
creme anglaise, meringue and almond praline,
my favorite is the creme anglaise.
It tastes like ice cream and is very easy to prepare.
The almond praline is so delicious…makes for a great snack!

By Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa)
Adapted by Carmen Ortiz of Baking is my Zen

Total Time: 2 hr 40 min
Prep: 20 min
Inactive: 2 hr 0 min
Cook 20 min
Yield: 12 servings
Level: Intermediate


4 extra-large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 3/4 cups scalded milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons Cognac (I used Amaretto Disarrono)
Seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean, optional (I used vanilla bean paste; use about 1/4 teaspoon)
Pinch of salt (optional)

CARAMEL: (1/4 cup used for almond praline)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup water (add off the heat)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt (optional)

1 1/2 cups (5 ounces) sliced almonds
¼ cup caramel (get from caramel batch)
Pinch of sea salt (optional)

8 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Splash of Amaretto – (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Beat the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, or until very thick.
• Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.
• With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the eggs.
• Pour the custard mixture into a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thickened.
• The custard will coat the spoon like heavy cream.
• Don’t cook it above 180 degrees Fahrenheit or the eggs will scramble!
• Pour the sauce through a fine strainer; add the vanilla extract, Amaretto, vanilla bean paste, and salt.
• Chill. Yield: 2 cups

• Heat 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan until the sugar dissolves.
• Cook over medium heat until the syrup turns a warm caramel color.
• Don’t stir, just swirl it in the pan.
• Off the heat, add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla extract; be careful, the syrup will bubble violently.
• Stir and cook over high heat until the caramel reaches 230 degrees Fahrenheit (thread stage) on a candy thermometer.
• Set aside.

• Combine the almonds with 1/4 cup of the caramel and spread them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
• Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the almonds are lightly browned.
• Allow to cool at room temperature and then break up in pieces.
• Lower the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
• Beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed until frothy.
• Turn the mixer on high speed and add 1 cup of sugar.
• Beat until the egg whites are very stiff and glossy.
• Whisk in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
• With dessert spoons place 12 mounds of meringue on the parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. MY NOTE: (I used a piping bag and pastry tip (Ateco #849) and swirled mounds onto the parchment paper.

• Pour and spread crème anglaise on the bottom of individual plates.
• Place a meringue on top of each serving, drizzle with caramel sauce (I didn’t drizzle), sprinkle with almond praline.
• Serve.

To make a day or two ahead, leave the caramel and praline at room temperature
and refrigerate the crème anglaise. Bake the meringues before guests arrive and assemble the desserts just before serving.


can be found on my blogger.com account

for Baking is my Zen.

Simply delightful!

French Dessert is THE BEST!

On 9/18/10, I signed up for an Amateur Pastry Techniques Course at
The French Culinary Institute.
462 Broadway
(between Grand St and Broome St)
New York, NY 10013
Neighborhood: SoHo
(888) 324-2433

The (100 hours-once a week for 26 weeks) course ran from
September 18, 2010 through March 12, 2011.

Must say, it was THE best decision I made. I discovered that
french pastries are ‘exquisite’. The best in the world!

Class in sesson…
Chef Rebecca Kaiser demonstrates how to decorate a Fraisier Victoria (Strawberry Genoise Cake).

FINAL CLASS PROJECT ~ Decorate a cake in fondant
Truth be told, I do not like to use fondant.
However, it was a class assignment. Had to do it.
For the decorating idea, I used elements that described ‘me’.
I’m Latin. Thus the words, ‘Latin Soul’. I play guitar and love roses.

Peace in Baking,


Baking is my Zen…sweet nibbles for the soul

About Baking is my Zen

Love to bake...it is my peaceful time. ~ Baking is my Zen ~
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8 Responses to Floating Island (ILE Flottante)…simplicity at it’s best

  1. This dessert always seemed so difficult. But, you make it sound easy! Can’t wait to try it.


  2. Wow, Carmen. That is the most spectacular dessert! You do make it look so easy. Your photos are beautiful and it is to nice to ‘meet’ you. How wonderful that you had the opportunity to attend the culinary institute. I love that you added some Latin soul to your dessert. 🙂

  3. Just stunning!!! I’ve made floating islands but I’m going to have to try again…they didn’t look nearly as lovely as yours. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

    PS…love all your old photos, too…such fun!

  4. Wendy says:

    Your floating island looks divine. And your pictures from your culinary institute days look fun!

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