Mark Hix recipe: A festive floating island

Serves 6-8

This is a festive version of the classic îles flottantes which, in one dessert makes good use of the whites and yolks, whereas often meringue-type desserts leave you with a leftover bowl of egg yolks. If you wish you can add some alcohol to the sauce like amaretto or brandy – up to you.

6 eggs, separated
100g caster sugar
150ml double cream
200ml milk
3tbsp cranberry sauce
18-20 chestnuts, ready peeled in vac-pack or lightly roasted and peeled
½tbsp icing sugar

Put the cream and milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Meanwhile mix the egg yolks with 70g of the sugar. Whisk the boiled cream mixture on to the egg yolks and sugar – mix well. Return to a clean pan on a low heat and stir every so often, ensuring you stir the bottom and sides of the pan.

When the sauce coats the back of a spoon (this should take 3-4 minutes) remove from the heat, give it a good whisk and transfer to a bowl. Heat the cranberry sauce with some water to form a spooning sauce-like consistency.

Put the chestnuts on a grill tray lined with foil, dust with icing sugar and cook under the grill for a few minutes, turning regularly until lightly coloured.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites. Use an electric food mixer with the whisk attachment, or an electric hand whisk (the bowl must be extremely clean with no signs of grease – rinse with boiling water and dry it first). Whisk the whites with the rest of the caster sugar for 3-4 minutes, until they are stiff and shiny.

Bring a large pan of water to a simmer and with a large kitchen serving spoon, lower four spoon shapes of egg white as neatly as you can into the simmering water. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side then transfer to a large plate, preferably lined with kitchen paper to soak up moisture. Cook a couple of batches if your saucepan isn't big enough.

Serve immediately with the warm sauce, or allow to cool to room temperature. Divide the sauce between pasta-type bowls and float a cooked meringue in the middle of each. Blob some of the cranberry sauce around in the sauce with a spoon. Break up the chestnuts and scatter over.

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