Oeufs à la neige
, or snow eggs, are a classic French dessert of small poached meringue
s floating in a custard sauce. Some people call it ile flottante
or floating island, but that dessert is, technically, one big meringue floating in custard sauce. Whatever you call is, know it is delicious. A bit time consuming, but delicious.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 6 servings
- 4 eggs
- Tiny pinch of salt (1/16 tsp.)
- 3/4 cup sugar, divided
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
- 2 1/2 cups milk, plus up to 1 cup more
- Separate the eggs and set the yolks aside.
- Put egg whites into a copper bowl, if you have one, but any large bowl will do. Feel free to use a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, if you like. Beat eggs with a large balloon whisk, if you have one, but any whisk will work, or in the machine until foamy.
- Add salt and keep beating as it turned fluffy.
- Keep beating until firm peaks form – when you lift the whisk or beaters out of the egg whites the peak that forms should droop a bit, but then stay put.
- Fold in 1/4 cup of the sugar, incorporating 1 tablespoon at a time. Then fold in 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla.
- Put 2 1/2 cups milk and 1/4 cup sugar in a wide pot or sauté pan. Heat the milk to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally to help the sugar melt.
- Use two large spoons to form football-shaped dumplings of the egg whites, scooping the mixture with one spoon and shaping it in that spoon with the other spoon.
- Then use the free spoon to help ease the meringue into the simmering milk. Do as many meringues as fit without crowding or touching too much in the pan.
- Cook, turning over once, until meringues are firm, about 2 minutes each side.
- When the meringues are cooked, lift them out of the milk with a slotted spoon and drain them on a clean kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining egg white mixture.
- When all meringues are cooked. Strain the poaching milk through a fine mesh sieve. Add enough more milk to equal 2 cups, if necessary.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until lighter yellow and thick. Keep whisking as you pour the milk mixture, which will still be very warm, into the egg yolks. (Constant whisking will keep the yolks from curdling.) Transfer this mixture to a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring pretty much constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon and show the path where your finger runs to have a taste.
- Stir in remaining the remaining teaspoon of vanilla. Strain custard sauce, if you like.
- You can now cover everything with plastic wrap and chill it up to a day before you serve, or prepare the dishes, cover them and chill them until you serve them, or assemble the desserts and eat them warm. In any case, put about a sixth of the sauce in a bowl and float three meringues on top or each serving.