In this version of floating islands, the egg snowballs are flavored with fresh vanilla, then set swimming in a pool of crème anglaise. The golden caramel syrup drizzled over the snowballs is a nice foil for toasted almond slices and fresh fruit. Poach the snowballs in barely simmering liquid; rapid boiling action will break up the delicate meringue puffs. Vary the fruit by season, but always select the freshest available.
- Egg Whites - 10
- Vanilla bean - 1
- Sugar - 7 ounces
- Water or milk - 1 quart
- Sugar Cubes - 10, or 5 tablespoons sugar
- Water - 5 tablespoons
- Crème Anglaise - 2 cups
- Almonds - 2 cups, sliced, toasted
- Mixed fresh fruit - 2 cups (strawberry halves, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
To prepare the quenelles: In a large bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the egg whites. Sprinkle in the sugar and continue whipping until the whites are very stiff. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the water or milk but do not let it boil. Just before it boils, reduce the heat to medium-low, a low simmer. Shape the egg whites into quenelles using two large spoons and place in the warm liquid to gently poach. After 2 minutes, turn with a spoon dipped in cold water. Cook 3 more minutes, then remove to a baking pan while you finish the other quenelles. Do not crowd the pan; poach just a few at a time. Set the poached quenelles aside while you make the sauce.
To make the caramel: Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook without stirring until it melts and turns a golden caramel color, about 325 to 330 F on a candy thermometer. Set aside off the heat.
To serve: Pool each soup plate with crème anglaise. Divide the quenelles among the bowls and place in the crème anglaise. Sprinkle with roasted almonds and drizzle with caramel. Garnish with the fruit.