Any time my mother asks what dessert I want her to make I will say Floating Island. I remember the first time she ever made it on a “get fancy” kind of day or maybe it was a birthday surprise, but she really did impress me. She knows better than to offer me Peanut Butter pie or Mississippi Mud cake. Oh no, the light and elegant wins me every time.
When I make it myself I impress myself every time. It’s beautiful, it’s fancy, and most important, it’s delicious. I also realized it is not at all difficult. I will say that I gravitated to Wolgang Puck’s recipe because he makes individual meringues versus Julia Child’s which is a giant meringue that you cut into serving sizes. (I adore Julia, but confess that she usually took the more complex road when another route was easier. In this case, it is strictly the size of the meringues though.) I always choose the best tasting and then I always choose miniatures, if allowed.
I do not use vanilla bean. Please. Vanilla extract and/or liqueurs are my go-to flavorings… they are always at hand. Believe me, you cannot tell the difference here to justify the expense and trouble of vanilla bean seeds.
I usually do not make the caramel sauce, but do like candied almond shards for an elegant crunch. So Wolfgang’s version suits me best here too.
I usually serve chilled, but warm is also spectacular. I like the fact that each part can be made well in advance and then assembled for serving. Although if you want the Creme Anglaise warm, it is easier to make just before serving as reheating invites curdles.
This dessert is so slurpable and a wonderful finish to any meal because it isn’t too much. Not too much sugar, or fat, or goo. You are never too full to have dessert if this is the offering. And, you will always impress your guests; this just isn’t done by anyone, plus it is gorgeous to look at and taste.
Go on, impress yourself. You can do it.