Floating Islands

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Daily Mail Modern British Cookbook

The Daily Mail Modern British Cookbook

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1998

  • About

A classic French dessert, also called oeufs à la neige, this pretty pudding of poached meringues set in a sea of egg custard looks a more impressive and difficult construction than it really is.


  • 600 ml/ 1 pint full-fat milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 150 g/ 5 oz caster sugar
  • pinch of salt


Start by making the custard: put the milk with the split vanilla pod over a low heat and bring to just below boiling.

While it is heating, whisk the egg yolks with 115 g/ 4 oz of the caster sugar, beating until you have a pale amalgam which will fall in ribbons from the whisk.

Off the heat, slowly whisk in the milk, then return to a clean saucepan over a low heat. Cook gently, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it forms a custard thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This will take about 10–12 minutes. Pass through a sieve into a bowl and leave to cool then cling-wrap and refrigerate. This can be done the day before.

Rinse the vanilla pod and put it in a wide, low-sided saucepan with water and bring to boil. Lower the heat to a bare simmer.

Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form soft peaks. Sprinkle over the remaining caster sugar and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks.

Dip a metal serving spoon into the hot water, then scoop out an oval of meringue and slide it into the water. Repeat to make 7 more or, if preferred, make 4 large meringues. Poach for 2 minutes then turn over with a slotted spoon and poach for a further 2–3 minutes. Remove to a clean cloth to drain and allow to cool.

To Serve

Ladle the custard into 4 bowls and float the meringue islands on top.