Use this foolproof guide to master the art of creating picture-perfect floating island dessert at home.
This heavenly creation, also known as île flottante in French cuisine, is a delicate treat that will transport your taste buds to new places.
With its fluffy meringue "island" coated with a simple caramel, this dessert is not only visually stunning but also incredibly satisfying.
Floating Island dessert has its roots in French cuisine and dates back centuries. It is believed to have been invented during the 17th or 18th century by François Massialot, a renowned French chef who served as the head cook for several noble households. The dish gained popularity throughout Europe and eventually made its way into various international culinary traditions.
The traditional recipe uses egg whites for the meringue and egg yolks for a custard where the islands are placed when this dessert is served, like the Chilean Floating Islands.
In some countries in South America, this dessert is made into a single floating island, using a bundt cake pan, or flan pan, and baked in a water bath.
Floating Island dessert, known more commonly as Isla Flotante, is found in many buffet-style restaurants. Especially in churrasquerias (Brazilian steak houses).
Floating Island Dessert or Isla Flotante
Meringue: The base for this dessert consists of a light and fluffy meringue. Egg whites are whisked with sugar until stiff peaks form, resulting in an airy texture that resembles clouds.
Caramel Sauce: To enhance the flavor profile further, the pan is coated with a simple caramel sauce that helps the meringue not stick to the pan and gives it a distinct gloss when served.
There are only three ingredients for this simple dessert.
- egg whites: use them at room temperature
- granulated sugar
There is no need to butter the pan. But have everything ready because the caramel hardens quickly.
Cook sugar over medium heat until it melts into a golden-brown syrup.
Pour the caramel evenly into a bundt pan. Coating the bottom and the sides of the pan.
Whip egg whites, adding sugar a little bit at a time. Lastly, add cornstarch and mix well.
Add the meringue to the caramelized pan. Place the pan in a large baking dish and pour water about halfway up the pan.
Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the water bath.
Cool in the pan for 20 minutes before removing to a serving plate.
This dessert never fails to impress. With its simplicity in preparation and stunning presentation, the floating island dessert is sure to leave a lasting impression.
Make this delicious Quindim (Brazilian Coconut Custard) with the leftover egg yolks!
Some recipes use prunes or raisings soaked in rum to the meringue before baking.
- ½ cup prunes cut in half, ¾ cup Rum. Soak overnight and drain before folding into the meringue before baking.
- ½ cup raisings, ½ cup Rum. Soak overnight and drain before folding into the meringue before baking.
The easiest way to store a floating island in the fridge is by keeping it in the same pan it was baked. Cover with foil and refrigerate for up to 7 days.
If you have leftovers, cover them with plastic wrap, and refrigerate them.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Floating Island Dessert
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (150g)
- 5 egg whites, at room temperature (about 150g) Large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a mediun size pot, add ¾ cup of sugar and cook over medium heat. Stir the sugar until it begins to brown and clump together. Keep stirring until the sugar completely melts into a golden-brown syrup. Remove and work quickly.
- Pour the caramel evenly into a 12 cup, bundt cake pan. Coating the bottom and the sides of the pan. Set aside.
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until they start to foam. Add about 2 tablespoons of the 1 cup of sugar. Continue whipping and add the sugar gradually until the meringue is shiny and close to stiff peaks.
- Add cornstarch and mix again.
- Using a spatula or a spoon, poor the meringue in the caramelized pan.
- Place the bundt cake pan in a large baking dish and pour enough water in the dish until it reaches about halfway up the pan.
- Bake in the middle rack for 40 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
- Remove from the oven, and let it sit for 20 minutes before removing the floating island from the pan.
- Before serving, slide a knife along the edges of the pan to loosen it up. Place a plate on top of the floating island, grab a hold of both the plate and the pan and quickly and securely flip it over so that the dessert is now upside down. Carefully lift off the pan.