Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!
This Christmas, Santa is bringing lots of presents for everyone as they have been good through out the whole year, especially Little One who has been sleeping through the night for the past month. Her mommy told her every night before she sleeps ‘If you sleep through the night every night, Santa will bring you lots of presents but if you don’t, Santa will know and will not bring you any presents’. To my surprise, she whispered secretly to my ear: ‘Shh! Mommy, don’t tell Santa if I didn’t sleep through the night. It stays a secret between us.’ LOL! I told her ‘Mommy can’t lie to Santa. He knows everything and can see straight away if I lied. Now be good and sleep through the night like a big girl’ Sleep through the night she did except for a few times where she was woken up by noises made by the radiators or some storm.
This year like every other year, we celebrate Christmas and New Year with traditional dishes like foie gras, scallop sautée with butter vinegared onion sauce (delicious!), good wine and desserts like home-made chocolate truffles, orangettes etc. However this year, together with my sister-in-law, we got a little zealous a bit earlier and made a classic Italian cookie, amaretti and a great French classic, îles flottantes.
Îles flottantes, literally translated as floating islands, is one of the great desserts of classic French cuisine. It’s basically a lightly cooked meringue floating in custard sauce, crème anglaise. This dessert is a prominant feature on the menu of many French restaurants (along with crème brûlée) and tourists like you and me (well before I came to live in France) who don’t know any better pay an indecent amount of money just for the taste of it. Well, now you don’t have to travel all the way to France to savour it, you can do so at home – it’s a rather easy dessert to make.
- crème anglaise (French custard)
- 6 egg whites
- 3 tbsp sugar
- Prepare your crème anglaise (French custard) in advance and let it chill in refrigerator.
- Preheat oven at 200°C (400°F – gas mark 6).
- Beat egg white until peaks formed and firm (when you turn your bowl upside down, it sticks to the bowl).
- Continue to whisk the white while adding the sugar until you get a shiny meringue.
- Transfer it to a baking bowl and bake it on marie-bain covered at 200°C for about 15 minutes or until the meringue gets a bit brown on top.
- To serve: pour some crème anglaise in a small dessert bowl, scoop a large spoonful of meringue and place in the middle of the dessert bowl. Sprinkle either bits of Pralines or drizzle with caramel sauce (or both) on top of the meringue and serve.
- Put some sugar and water in a small pot and heat it up on medium heat.
- Once it turns bubbling brown and golden, turn off the heat.
- Drizzle a bit of the caramel on top of the meringue.
It’s one of the funniest dessert: it’s like sweet clouds floating on a lake of vanilla! The meringue is light and fluffy and goes well with the cream.
Alternatively, you either poach spoonfuls of the egg white in boiling water, or in microwave oven on low power for 45 seconds (I haven’t tried this out) or in a pot of hot milk for 2 minutes.