Pistachio floating islands

    1 hour 20 min

    In this version of the classic French pudding, îles flottantes, fluffy poached meringues studded with pistachio nuts float on a creamy vanilla custard. A flourish of fresh blueberry coulis is the finishing touch.

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    Serves: 4 

    • Vanilla custard
    • 600 ml (1 pint) semi-skimmed milk
    • 1 vanilla pod
    • 25 g (scant 1 oz) caster sugar
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 1 tsp cornflour
    • Pistachio meringues
    • 1 large egg white
    • 45 g (1 1/2 oz) caster sugar
    • 30 g (1 oz) unsalted pistachio nuts, chopped
    • Blueberry coulis
    • 250 g (8 1/2 oz) blueberries
    • 15 g (1/2 oz) icing sugar, sifted

    Prep:55min  ›  Cook:25min  ›  Ready in:1hr20min 

    1. Pour the milk into a medium-sized frying pan. Split the vanilla pod down its length with a sharp knife and scrape out the tiny black seeds into the milk. Cut the pod in half and add to the pan with the sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.
    2. Meanwhile, in a clean bowl whisk the egg white for the meringues to soft peaks. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar, then continue whisking for about 1 minute or until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Gently fold in the pistachio nuts.
    3. When the milk is just simmering, spoon on the meringue in 4 neat mounds. Poach gently for 5 minutes, turning once, until the meringues feel set. Remove with a draining spoon onto kitchen paper and set aside.
    4. Strain the milk into a heavy-based saucepan. Mix together the egg yolks and cornflour, then whisk into the milk. Cook over a very low heat for 5–7 minutes, stirring all the time, until smooth and thickened. Do not allow the custard to boil or it will curdle. If it does start to curdle, immediately strain it through a fine sieve into a clean pan.
    5. Remove the custard from the heat and pour it into a large, shallow serving bowl or onto 4 individual plates or dishes. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
    6. Meanwhile, make the blueberry coulis. Put the blueberries and icing sugar in a small saucepan with 2 tsp water. Simmer over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 4–5 minutes or until the blueberries burst and release their juices. Press the mixture through a sieve and leave to cool.
    7. Float the meringues on the custard and drizzle a little blueberry coulis over them. Serve immediately, with the rest of the coulis separately.

    Plus points

    As long as eggs are not overcooked, there is no protein loss and they retain all their content of vitamins A, D and niacin. There can be some loss of vitamins B1 and B2, if eggs are cooked for a long time. * Pistachios are a good source of vitamin B1 and contain a small amount of carotene. Like other nuts, they are rich in potassium and low in sodium (unless salt is added during roasting). * Blueberries, like all berries, are rich in vitamin C and also provide some beta-carotene. Both of these nutrients are important antioxidants.

    Some more ideas

    Use frozen and thawed blueberries for the coulis. * Omit the pistachios, if you prefer, or replace them with chopped pecan nuts. * For lime and passion fruit floating islands, flavour the milk with the grated zest of 1 lime instead of vanilla. Make the meringues as in the main recipe, but without the pistachio nuts. Replace the blueberry coulis with a passion fruit coulis: halve 6 large, ripe passion fruits and scoop out the pulp into a small saucepan. Stir in 15 g (½ oz) caster sugar and cook over a low heat for 1–2 minutes, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool.

    Each serving provides

    B12 * calcium * A, B1, B2, C, folate, niacin, copper, iron, potassium, selenium, zinc

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