When I saw week 3 previewed at the end of week 2, I was very excited that the technical challenge was Floating Islands.
I’d seen them on Masterchef Australia and had always wanted to test my skills, but as the time to make them got closer and closer, I was more and more put off by them. Reading over the recipe, I could see that I didn’t have a pan the correct size, I didn’t have a suitable amount of serving spoons to make my quenelles (you need two, I have just one and it’s too big!) If I downscaled the recipe for just 2 people, there wouldn’t be enough liquid to cover the bottom of the pan to be able to poach the meringues. It was all seeming like one great big massive faff. Also poached meringue didn’t sound very nice, surely the best bit about a meringue is the gnarly bits that catch in the oven, making them uberchewy.
And then you see, Steph from Riversidebaking made hers and she HATED them. So that was that decided, no floating islands for me this week.
But then what else was I going to make… (The pictures might have already given this one away)
If I made trifle, I would eat the whole thing and that would not be good for that extra stone I’d like to get rid of thank you please. Petit fours sounded like too much of a fiddleyfaff and I’d need to buy fancy tins and I wasn’t in the market for fancy tins.
So firstly I looked back at the dessert technical challenges from previous years, I had the option of Hot Lemon Soufflé from series 1, Chocolate Roulade from series 2 or crème caramel from series 3. The only one I haven’t made before from that list was Soufflé, I made one attempt and was all set to make another in the daytime for pictures when Amy for She Cooks She Eats (I promise I’m not obsessed by her, she’s just really awesome) wrote this – In defence of the Ile Flottante… and if that wasn’t enough she then Vlogged how to make them too - How to make îles flottantes.
It would be rude of me to turn my back on them after Amy had so lovingly stood up for them. I’m glad I did make them, they were fairly straight forward and did taste really good and I can now tick them off my list. I added a praline topping for added crunch, just because!
45g / 1.6oz golden caster sugar
3 large egg whites
40g / 1.4oz golden caster sugar
75g / 2.6oz golden caster sugar
25 ml water
50g / 1.8oz slivered almonds
250ml whole milk
30g / 1oz golden caster sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Preheat the oven to 150°c / 300°f / gas mark 2
Put the sugar in a pan, covering the bottom in an even layer. Heat the sugar on a moderate heat, keeping an eye on it at all times. When it starts to brown at the edges, gently drag the sugar towards the centre.
If it starts to look lumpy and grainy, lower the heat and gently stir and the lumps should liquify.
Apparently caramel is ready just after it starts smoking, don’t let it smoke too long – it’ll burn and burnt caramel tastes minging!
Once ready, quickly pour the caramel into ramekins and swirl it about so it covers the bottom. Put to one side while you make the meringue.
Whisk the eggs whites until stiff peaks and then gradually add the sugar – whisking it until it’s nice and glossy. Then spoon into the ramekins and level off the top.
Place in a tray, and fill the tray with hot water until about half way up the side of the ramekins.
Bake for 45 minutes and then leave to fully cool.
Meanwhile make the praline, line a baking tray with tin foil or baking paper, heat the sugar and water in a large pan gently until the sugar dissolves. Then turn the heat up, as soon as it starts to bubble add the almonds and stir continuously, until they turn a lovely golden caramel colour.
Pour them out on to the prepared tray, spread them out and leave to cool. This makes more than you need, so enjoy just munching the rest!
To make the crème anglaise, in a bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla bean paste. Gently heat the milk until it boils, then pour a tiny amount of milk into the egg mixture and whisk, gradually add a bit more milk at a time and whisk continuously until all the milk is mixed in.
Pour the mix into a clean pan and gently heat, stirring constantly – do not allow the mix to simmer, as it will split. If this happens, remove the pan from the heat, add a small amount of cold water and whisk the absolute s*** out of it! Have faith it will come back to life. It’ll start to thicken, you want it so it coats the back of a spoon. Leave to one side to cool.
To assemble the île flottante, Dip the ramekins in hot water for 30 seconds and then invert onto your serving plate, they should just plop out but you may need to run a knife round the edge first – I did!
Pour crème anglaise around the soufflé and break some praline off and pop on the top.
It’s really delicious, I promise and completely worth it for a special occasion or dinner party. The recipe can be easily multiplied for more mouths.
Were you inspired to bake anything after Dessert Week on the Bake Off? Take a look at what everyone else got up to on Bakers Anonymous, unsurprisingly not that many Floating Islands!