floating island a cold dessert consisting of a round, flattish, baked meringue ‘island’ floating on a sea of custard. In France a similar dish is called Île flottante. Another French dish called Œufs à la neige (snow eggs) is made by forming beaten egg whites into small rounds (not one large one) which are then poached and placed on top of a light egg custard. In either case the islands may be topped with caramel or grated almond or the like.
Hannah Glasse (1747) seems to be the earliest English reference in print, although she calls it Flooting Island and her long recipe differs from the above description, her island being made with thin slices of French rolls, jam or jelly, etc., rather than meringue.