Sunday, January 5, 2014

Floating Islands

Contestants on this year's Great British Bake Off were asked to make floating islands, a recipe I recently came across in the Macmillan Little Book of Treats. The charity cookbook features recipes from a selection of celebrities, some chefs and some TV personalities, as well as a handful of amateur food bloggers - including me!

Dolly Parton submitted a recipe called Floating Islands in the Stream (get it?) and I decided to try making it. This particular version is served in a chocolate custard. The recipe also gives instructions to make a chocolate sauce to drizzle over the top but I decided against making that due to lack of time.

To serve 6, you need:

For the chocolate custard:

4 egg yolks

150g caster sugar

pinch of salt

500ml milk

60ml double cream

125g dark chocolate, melted

2 tsp vanilla flavouring

meringue islands:

4 egg whites

170g caster sugar

Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt for the chocolate custard until creamy - I used my KitchenAid to do the job.

Next, stir in the milk and cream.

Cook in a saucepan over a low heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring constantly until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the melted chocolate and vanilla and put in a bowl in the fridge for half an hour.

To make the meringue, beat the egg whites until stiff then beat in the sugar. At the same time, bring a large pan of water to simmering point. I found it easiest to do this in a deep frying pan; the water doesn't need to be deep but you need a lot of surface space.

This is the tricky bit that some of the contestants in the Great British Bake Off struggled with, and I can see why! Using a large spoon, scoop up the meringue in an egg shape (or as much as you can manage) and gently slide into the simmering water. Poach the meringues for two minutes on each side then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Take the custard from the fridge and pour into pudding bowls - fairly large, flattish bowls are good for this. Place a couple of the islands on top so they float in the stream.

Personally I find custard quite difficult to make and today was no exception, and it is hard to get the meringue into the pan of water without them falling apart - though they did poach nicely when they were in the water! This is quite a fiddly dessert and not a particular favourite so I'm not sure I'd bother making it again. I'd be interested to know if anyone makes this regularly!


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