Chow Bella

Floating Island: An Easy-to-Love Dessert from the Seventies

See also: Vincent Guerithault: Tastemaker #53

Like hairstyles and handbags, desserts go in and out of fashion. When's the last time you saw Crepes Suzette, Bananas Foster or Baked Alaska on a restaurant menu? And rightly so. You'd probably hoot at the very notion.

But there's one old school dessert that still makes my heart skip a beat and that's Floating Island -- an ethereal bit of 70s-era French fluff that's almost impossible to find nowadays.

It's a simple dessert -- light, elegant and perfect for hot weather -- composed of cloud-like puffs of meringue, poached in milk and set "afloat" on a sea of cold crème Anglaise (vanilla custard).

In France, this centuries-old farmhouse dessert (no doubt the delicious result of an abundance of eggs), is called Île Flottante (Floating Island) or Oeufs à la Neige ( Eggs in Snow). But Floating Island best captures its delicacy and weightlessness.

Although it's not on the menu at Vincent on Camelback or at Vincent's Market Bistro, chef-owner Vincent Guerithault will make it for customers who request it.

He always has crème Anglaise on hand, so it's really just a matter of whipping egg whites and poaching them in little cups. Guerithault tops them off with a drizzle of caramel and a thicket of spun sugar, which adds another layer of airy, brittle deliciousness.

If you catch yourself rolling your eyes over yet another tiramisu or chocolate lava cake, remember to put this sweet nothing on your to-do list.

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Nikki Buchanan