My daughters, my neighbors’ daughter, my neighbors and my wife were all stunned at how good this dessert was. On the face of it, it just doesn’t sound all that interesting. Meringue poached in milk? Oh, yippee. You really have to try this to understand how remarkable it is. With your caramel sauce and crème anglaise at-the-ready, start making your islands. Pour the milk into a saucepan and set it on to simmer.
Pour the whites into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip.
Whip the whites to a froth and add the salt.
Whip on medium-high until the foam is opaque and start adding the sugar.
Whip to the stiff peak stage.
Then spoon up some of the meringue and drop it into the simmering milk. Poach from 1-3 minutes. I noticed that the longer the poaching goes on, the more the sulfur notes of the eggs comes out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The point is that these can be poached rather lightly if you wish.
Flip them with a spider or a spoon (I went over to a metal spoon after this photo, it was just too darn big for this pan).
When done, remove the islands to a clean kitchen towel or a paper towel to drain.
After a few minutes move the islands to a parchment or waxed paper-lined baking sheet.
Cover them with plastic and refrigerate at least an hour, up to five hours.
To assemble, simply place an island on a plate and spoon over the chilled crème anglaise.
Finish with caramel sauce and serve!
I should mention that caramel sauce is just one potential topping. “Spun” caramel is a very popular topping in French homes, and produces a nice crunchy texture contrast. For that, you’ll want to have a shallow pan containing a cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of water standing by. When the islands are plated, swirl the sugar over high heat until it turns a dark amber. Insert the end of a fork into the caramel and — carefully — drizzle it over the islands.
If you prefer caramel sauce but still want a crunch, some sliced, toasted almonds are a nice addition.