You won't have to travel far to enjoy Claud's "Floating Islands." These puffy clouds of meringue floating on vanilla custard will be the breakout star of your next dinner party.
For the Custard Sauce:
- 2 cups milk or half and half
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
- Pinch salt
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (optional)
For the Meringues:
- 5 egg whites
- 1 pinch cream of tartar
- 1/3 sugar
- Orange zest for garnish
Combine milk, vanilla bean and salt in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and simmer 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
In a large mixing bowl, vigorously whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light colored and smooth. Gradually whisk in a cup of the hot milk into the egg-sugar mixture.
Whisk the egg mixture into the saucepan with the remaining hot milk and cook over a very low heat until the mixture begins to thicken, about 7-10 minutes stirring often with a wooden spoon. Do Not Boil! Once the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove the vanilla bean and stir in the orange liqueur. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover and chill.
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until whites just begin to thicken; continue beating while adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until the whites are stiff and shiny and then transfer to a piping bag. Pipe 2-3 inch “islands” onto a cookie sheet lined with oiled parchment and refrigerate until stiff.
In a large pot, bring 2 quarts water to boil with a teaspoon of white vinegar. Carefully lift islands from parchment and place in the simmering water. Cook for 5 minutes, flip and cook another 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon or mesh skimmer, drain and transfer to a cookie sheet. Refrigerate until chilled.
To Serve: Ladle custard sauce into shallow bowls; carefully float an island over the custard. Garnish with orange zest.