Floating Island Pudding

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  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Extra sugar (for sprinkling)


  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon tartar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Sauce: Set a strainer over a bowl.
  2. In a medium size bowl, whisk the yolks and the sugar.
  3. In a saucepan, scald the milk. Remove it from the heat.
  4. Whisk about 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture. Whisk in another 1/4 cup hot milk. Pour the yolk mixture back into the remaining hot milk and whisk thoroughly. Switch to a wooden spoon.
  5. Return the pot to a medium-low heat. Stir constantly for 5 to 7 minutes or until the sauce thickens enough to coat the spoon or a thermometer registers 140 degrees F. Watch the sauce carefully; if it curdles, you will have to start over.
  6. Strain the sauce into the bowl, stir in the vanilla extract, and sprinkle the top with extra sugar. Set aside to cool. Transfer the sauce to a large bowl.
  7. Meringue: Fill a large deep skillet full of water. Bring it to a low simmer. On a flat work surface, spread out a clean kitchen towel next to the burner.
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the whites with the salt, cream of tartar, and the sugar until glossy peaks form.
  9. Using a large metal spoon, form an oval or larger-sized dollop (or island) of egg whites, and drop it into the barely simmering water. Leave it for 4 seconds, turn over with a slotted spoon, and cook 4 seconds more. With the spoon, remove the meringue from the water, letting excess liquid drip off before placing it on the towel. Repeat until all the egg white mixture is used.
  10. With the spoon, lift the meringues gently and transfer to the custard sauce.
  11. Caramel: In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Cook, shaking the pan, over moderately high heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Bring the sugar to a boil and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the syrup turns a light brown color. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
  12. Using a fork or spoon in a back and forth motion, drizzle the caramel over the islands.

Yield: 6 servings