TWD #6: Floating Islands

Friday night, serving a cookie to my son, I asked “How is it?”
Mr. Picky replied, “Ugh, not very good; I don’t like marshmallows.”

“Taylor, those aren’t marshmallows, those are white chocolate chips.”

He proceded to eat four more.

The mind is a powerful thing.
Or:
A brain is a terrible thing to taste?

I know it’s something like that.

Recalling the marshmallow/cookie rejection, I decided not to tell my daughter that Shari’s “TWD” pick for this week, Floating Islands, are meringue, as she’s a meringue-hater.

Instead I told her “it’s a dessert with a creamy base, a floating island made of beaten egg whites and sugar, topped with strands of hardened caramel.”

I’m really surprised that she didn’t pick up on that, as one of the questions she got right last year in Scholastic Bowl was “What are the two main ingredients in meringue?” (Egg whites and sugar.)

My daughter might not know:
“What personal pronoun is subjective case, first person singular?” (No clue, I don’t even know what that means!)
or
“What scientist was the first to use the telescope for astronomy?” (Galileo?)

But she knows her ingredients! (Her other SB strength is Harry Potter facts; I’m sure that’ll help her on the ACT.)

Saturday night I made the creme anglaise, bringing milk to a boil in one pan, while whisking egg yolks and sugar in another. I carefully tempered the eggs with the milk, stirring the concoction over medium-low heat until it reached 180 degrees.

Which took TWENTY minutes!

Twenty minutes is a LONG time to continuously stir.

Okay, honestly, my twenty minutes went more like this:

Stir!
Unload top rack of dishwasher.
Stir, stir!
Read over the recipe.
Stir, stir, stir!
Pop some tea in the microwave.
Stir, stir, stir, stir!
Drink some tea. (Burn tongue.)
Stir, stir, stir, stir, stir!
Unload the bottom rack of the dishwaser.
Stir, stir, stir, stir, stir, stir!
(You know what? “Stir” no longer even looks like a real word!)
Load the top rack of the dishwasher.
Stir, stir, stir, stir, stir, stir, stir!
Pet the dog. (Wash hands)
Stir, stir, stir, stir, stir, stir, stir, stir!
Drink some more tea (Darn, now it’s cold!).
Stir, stir, stir, stir, stir, stir, stir, stir, stir!”
Finally 180 degrees! My creme anglaise was fairly thick but still rather yellow.
It didn’t look quite like the picture in the cookbook.

Hmmm….. “dog-pee-in-the-snow” colored creme anglaise. (Which was not helped by the addition of vanilla.)
What’s a girl to do?

I strained it into a ceramic bowl and refrigerated it overnight.

Sunday night I made the islands, beating room temp egg whites with a pinch of salt and a quarter cup of sugar until it held stiff peaks.

Once the meringue beaten egg whites and sugar were ready, I gently used an ice cream scoop to drop the white blobs into a pan of simmering milk, cooking three or four at a time for about a minute and a half per side.

Weebles wobble but they won’t fall down.
Meringue quivers but it won’t flip over.

I set the islands on waxed paper and then refrigerated them until they were ready to serve.

After positioning a beautiful white island in the center of each pool of snowy dog urine creme anglaise I went about preparing the strands of caramel.

I used a small skillet, rather than a sauce pan, and brought water and sugar to a boil. Luckily caramel should not be stirred (or the sugar might crystallize) because my stirring arm was still pretty tired from the night before. (And that’s why I DID NOT rock at Wii bowling, yessirree.)

Excuses, excuses.

Anyway, the sugar water took a long time to come to a boil and I kinda got distracted. (Yes, I was unloading/reloading the dishwasher AGAIN! (brief aside: Um, whose dish month is it anyway?))

And my caramel, well, let’s just say it had “charred undertones.” It was also pretty darn thick, so I added a touch of heavy cream to thin it.

I used a fork to drizzle the caramel across the top of the islands and distributed one to each member of my family. Even to the lackadaisical dishwasher.

Taylor said “What is this?” And then wouldn’t taste it.

My husband was lying facedown, possibly dead or maybe just listening to the radio. (“You know how I know you’re gay? How? Because you like Coldplay.”)

Reagan and I sat down to eat ours.
Creme Anglaise? YUM YUM YUM YUM.
The Meringue? YUM YUM.
The Caramel? I think I pulled out a filling.
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15 Responses to “TWD #6: Floating Islands”

  1. Secret Server Says:

    Your island looks great. That was the color of my creme anglaise too, except mine wasn’t so smooth.

  2. Teanna Says:

    Hahahah that part on stirring is hysterical! It really did take forever! Your islands look great!

  3. Spike Says:

    Love the 40 year old virgin quote! You know how…I saw you make a spinach dip in a loaf of sour dough bread once.

    I like the creme anglaise best…although my color was yellow too

  4. Sara Says:

    This looks excellent, great job! Nice movie reference, I love that scene 🙂

  5. Wendy Says:

    How funny! My mother used to tell me tuna salad was chicken salad b/c I didn’t like tuna and I believed her.

    Your floating island looks great!

  6. carolina Says:

    I just eye-balled everything and went with it. I had not thermometer or strainer. I was worried about my creme not being snow white, but thought I bet it is the book’s photographers tricks and the rest of us will have beige creme! It seems a lot of us did. Great job!

  7. carolina Says:

    BTW, for the longest time, i thought broccoli were little trees!

  8. Shari Says:

    Great post! I’m glad you liked them and yours look great!

  9. Lady Baker Says:

    So I’m trying to branch out and visit more blogs on the ‘blogroll’ with TWD–and yours just got bookmarked! Hysterical commentary, love the post!

  10. peggy Says:

    You are too too funny! I’m glad I didn’t make this after reading about everyones. But it sounds yummy.

  11. peggy Says:

    Oh, and yes I remember Remington Steele. Loved him in that. Thanks for stopping by!

  12. AmyRuth Says:

    LoL You crack me up. Your islands and your caramel look delicious. Great job and I’m glad someone in the house like it too.
    AmyRuth

  13. AmyRuth Says:

    Jennifer,
    thanks for stopping by for a visit… and for sharing about your resident photographer. Isn’t it fun to share with them?
    Happy Valentine’s Day
    AmyRuth

  14. Ivette Says:

    This is a beautiful picture and you blog story rocks!!
    I loved this desert.. it was just perfect.
    Thanks for visiting!

  15. Margaret Says:

    Too funny!!! SNowy dog pee….. Chuckle, chuckle. But they do look pretty.

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