Floating Island Dessert (Îles flottante)

Meringue sphere covered with caramelized hazelnuts on crème Anglaise with the rest of the dessert

5 from 6 reviews

Finish your dinner in style with this easy-to-make floating island dessert. It is a foaming meringue sphere floating on a crème Anglaise and sprinkled with caramelized hazelnuts. The dessert is a French classic worth making!



For meringue:

  • 1/3 cup + 1 teaspoon (80 g) caster sugar
  • 2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (180 g) egg whites (see note #1)

For crème Anglaise:

For caramelized nuts:

  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 5 teaspoons (25 g) water
  • 7 oz. (200 g) hazelnuts
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) butter
  • 1 small pinch of salt


  1. To make crème Anglaise, split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds. Mix egg yolks with vanilla seeds (or vanilla sugar) and sugar using a hand whisk. Place milk in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling milk into egg yolks/sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Bring everything into the saucepan back and cook over low heat for about 7 to 10 minutes, stirring and tracing "8" with a wooden spatula. Stop cooking just before boiling (using a cooking thermometer, check the temperature that has to be between 179-183 F/82-84 C). Please don't exceed the custard's temperature of 185 F/85 C! Pass it through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois strainer into another bowl set over a larger container with ice cubes so that the cooking stops. Cover with plastic film in contact and refrigerate until serving.
  2. Preheat the oven to 355 F/180 C. To make the meringue, using a stand or electric mixer, beat egg whites at moderate speed, then increase the speed and continue until soft peaks are formed. Gradually add the caster sugar and whisk to get the glossy meringue. Using a brush, lightly oil cavities of the half-sphere molds. With a pastry bag fitted with Ateco plain pastry tip 809 or simply with a spoon, place the meringue into half-spheres and even top with a bent spatula. Bake for 3 minutes. Remove the mold from the oven, let it stand for a few minutes. Turn out the mold onto parchment paper and slightly press each half-sphere to release the baked meringue. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.

  3. To caramelize nuts, toast hazelnuts at 300 F/150 C for 15 minutes. Place water and sugar in a saucepan and cook till the temperature 239 F/115 C. Add the toasted nuts and caramelize them while constantly stirring with a spatula. At first, hazelnuts will be covered with sugar syrup; then, they will get coated with sugar. Finally, the sugar will start melting and caramelizing, coating the nuts. At this point, add butter and salt, stirring constantly. Transfer caramelized hazelnuts to parchment paper and let cool. Crush lightly using a food processor and keep in an airtight plastic box.

  4. To serve the dessert, assemble two half-spheres, roll them into crushed caramelized nuts. Pour crème Anglaise into a serving plate and arrange a meringue sphere over the custard sauce. Sprinkle crushed hazelnuts over crème Anglaise if desired.


  1. 180 g egg whites approximately equal to 5 1/2 raw fresh egg whites from large-sized chicken eggs.
  2. While making crème Anglaise, make sure to stir the custard evenly with a wooden spatula. Do not let the custard boil! Once the white foam has disappeared and the custard coats the back of a spatula well and holds a trace while drawing your finger across it, crème Anglaise is ready. Use this test if you do not have a cooking thermometer.
  3. To prevent crème Anglaise from overcooking, use a container with ice cubes or a cold water bath to cool the custard as quickly as possible.
  4. If the custard has boiled and got overcooked (the eggs coagulate and form lumps), strain it through a fine-mesh sieve and give it a few mixer strokes to remove all the lumps. Your custard will become smooth again.
  5. Use grapeseed oil or vegetable oil to brush silicone half-spheres before baking.
  6. Make-ahead option: make crème Anglaise, cover with plastic in contact, and store in the fridge for up to 2 days. Make caramelized nuts and keep them in an airtight container. Bake meringue half-spheres, turn them on parchment, and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours.


Keywords: floating island dessert, floating island, floating island recipe, Îles flottante


Baking Essentials

unlock FREE printables
get new recipes, tips & tricks