Floating island, île flottante or oeufs à la neige (snow eggs) is a French classic consisting of meringue floating on crème anglaise. The meringue is prepared from whipped egg whites, sugar and vanilla and poached in milk, or quickly microwaved or baked.
Heat milk and heavy cream with one-third of the sugar; stir to combine. Meanwhile, beat yolks and remaining sugar. When milk is boiling, whisk in the hot milk gradually in the yolk mixture. Return mixture to the saucepan and cook to 185ºF/85ºC; whisking constantly on low heat. Sieve and cool on ice water. Crème Anglaise can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Lightly, oil half round silicone molds and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites with the salt and one-third of the sugar for 10 min on medium speed. When ready, increase speed to high and add remaining sugar and vanilla as it goes. Fill the oiled half round silicone molds with the meringue and even off edges using an offset spatula. Bake meringue in a 300ºF/150ºC preheated oven and in hot water bath for 15 min. Or, bake meringue in a preheated 350ºF/180ºC fan oven for 3 minutes without water. In any cases. Meringue can be made a day ahead. Carefully, unmold and transfer on a lightly oiled silicone mat or parchment.
Cook corn syrup and sugar to medium amber caramel, stirring every so often. Immerse the bottom of the pan in cold water for a second to stop cooking process. Then, over the upside down half round silicone molds, drizzle hot caramel into thin strings going back and forth to form a nest. Reheat caramel if needed. To keep the caramel at its best, do not expose it to humidity.
Floating Island can be served in shallow plates, bowls or glasses. Spit the chilled vanilla custard into 6 portions, add the baked meringue and place the caramel cage on meringue. Garnish with some crushed pink praline or caramelized almonds. Enjoy!