Madártej (Floating Island)
A dessert that originated in France but is also very popular in Hungary, this is a super-rich overly sweet dessert that’s guaranteed to make you too sick to eat anything else for the rest of the day! (´･ω･`) It consists of a crème anglaise (vanilla custard) topped with one, or several meringues (egg white dumplings). Although it’s considered a pretty fancy dessert, the ingredients for this are cheap and are probably already in your kitchen (except maybe the whole milk).
Fairly easy to make, and since it’s served chilled, everything can be done ahead of time! In fact, you probably should do this ahead of time so you can serve your main course fresh and not stress out about serving a fresh dessert as well. ʕ •́؈•̀ ₎
Ingredients for 2 servings
500ml whole milk (3.8%)*
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
(Optional) 1/4 tsp cream of tartar**
1. Start by making the crème anglaise. Heat up your milk in a saucepan on medium heat until it reaches a simmer. Do not boil, and be careful not to burn it!
2. Separate your egg yolks from the whites into separate bowls. Cover the bowl with the whites and put aside in the fridge for now.
3. Whisk together your yolks with 1 tbsp of sugar per yolk until they turn white and creamy.
4. Temper the egg mixture by pouring some of the hot milk into the yolks. Mix until even, then add the mixture into the hot milk.
5. Add vanilla extract and a pinch of salt and cook the milk and yolks stirring constantly on low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
6. Remove from heat and place into a bowl to cool. Once the custard is room temperature, put a plastic wrap on the top of the custard so that the plastic wrap is touching the custard itself*** and set in the fridge to chill for 5-6 hours.
7. To make the meringues, get your reserved egg whites from the fridge and beat them until foamy with a hand mixer, or a whisk if you’re good at whipping egg whites by hand. Add 1 tbsp sugar per egg (so 3 tablespoons if you used 3 eggs), along with your cream of tartar, and continue to beat until they hit stiff peaks.
8. Bring a pot of water to a very gentle boil, then take a spoonful of your egg white mixture and carefully plop it onto the top of your boiling water to cook/steam for about 30 seconds, then flip it over and cook the other side for 30 seconds more. Add cooked meringues to a plate to cool.****
9. Get out your crème anglaise and portion it out into bowls. Add as many meringues as you want on top and serve, garnished with walnuts and honey, or chocolate syrup, or however you like! (In Hungary though, they tend not to focus too much on garnishes for this and typically just add several meringues.)
Too sweet? Good; it’s supposed to be like that. I don’t think you’re supposed to eat all of it, though. ⊂((・▽・))⊃
*You really need whole milk for this, or a combination of fake milk and heavy cream. This is probably the only recipe I have so far that includes milk and cannot be substituted with almond milk…
**As always, use it if you have it, and don’t worry if you don’t.
***This is to prevent a skin from forming on top of the custard as it chills.
****Bare in mind; your meringues will shrivel up and shrink quite a bit once you’ve taken them out of the water, so don’t be afraid to make them too big initially when you plop them on top of the water.
Also, a lot of people tend to cook the meringues on top of the hot milk. The problem with this is that you may be heating your milk too high in order to bring it to a gentle boil and you risk burning it, and also if you’re doing several meringues they may start to come apart and fall into the milk, covering the top of your custard with a foamy bubbly layer making it very visually unappealing.