I have not blogged for a while due to being busy doing other things like costume making and gardening now we have a bit more sunshine, so here we are with the French classic - Oeufs a la Neige "snow eggs" or Floating Islands for the English viewers! This recipe, which I have been wanting to try out for many a year (I know - why so long!), but I now feel that I have the confidence to undertake this recipe which is not too taxing but a technical challenge for several reasons. Also, having visited a dear friend who raises rare breed French hens, she kindly donated a dozen and this WAS the only recipe to undertake!
The Crème Anglaise has several steps that do require being done to the letter. One reason being, and this is just one of the technical challenges that you have to over come if you want to have a rich a creamy custard rather than scrambled eggs! So, when the recipe says "let the vanilla infused milk cool down", do it otherwise you will just scramble your egg and sugar mixture which then cannot be retrieved. Returning the crème to a very gentle heat will cook through the egg yolks and result in a thick and creamy textured custard, that just needs to coat the back of a wooden spoon to show that it is done. Next challenge, to create the perfect meringue that will hold its shape when quinelled and poached. It is easy to over beat the egg whites, but adding a bit of Cream of Tartar helps stabilize it; then there is the poaching! Simmering water here to give the meringue a gentle poach so as not to disrupt the "egg" like shape that you have created for the floating island and each meringue will only take a couple of minutes to be cooked. I had decided to add a bit of caramel flourish to the dish, another technique that can go so easily array - and it did. Instead of creating a nice runny (soft ball) caramel, I ended up with a more robust caramel (hard ball) as the sugar continued to cook when the pan was taken off the heat. Lesson learnt - have a sink of cold water ready to stop the caramel from "going over." BUT, it still worked, adding a different texture to the dish as well as a bit of bitterness to counter act the sweetness of this delicious dessert.
Will I do this recipe again? You bet your little cotton socks I will, and I may even use the Crème Anglaise for some desserts rather than reaching for the drum of Bird's Custard powder!!!!!