Chamomile île Flottante


A wonderful, weirdly French dessert, featuring meringue floating on a sea of custard. Think of a floral Sunday custard with a bite of soft, sweet foam. Delightful!

Chamomile île Flottante

Difficulty: Medium | Prep time: 20 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Serves: 6


1 batch Crème Anglaise

1 cup dried chamomile flowers/loose tea

1 cup egg whites

½ cup castor sugar

2 cups full-cream milk

for the caramel sauce

2 cups granulated sugar

12 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup double cream, at room temperature

for Crème Anglaise (light pouring custard)

1 cup full-cream milk

1 cup fresh cream

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

6 large egg yolks

½ cup castor sugar


When making the crème anglaise, boil the milk with the camomile flowers, then reduce the heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Then follow the recipe as normal. Set aside to cool completely. (This can be made up to two days in advance.)

To make the caramel sauce, add the sugar to a heavy-based saucepan and melt on low–medium heat. You will notice that it forms lumps, but just keep going as they will melt as you stir slowly with the back of a wooden spoon. Continue cooking until all the sugar has melted and is a deep amber colour. Take care not to burn the caramel; this happens quickly. Now add the butter all at once, being careful as the caramel will bubble. Whisk until the butter is completely melted. Remove from the heat and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. It should form a smooth, creamy sauce.

When you are almost ready to serve the dessert, beat the egg whites until frothy using an electric mixer set to medium speed. Increase to high while slowly adding the castor sugar. Mix until you have a stiff, glossy meringue.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a medium saucepan to a gentle simmer. Line a tray with paper towel. Using large spoons, shape about half a cup of meringue into a quenelle (egg shape) and place into the simmering milk. Poach two meringues at a time, turning halfway through – about 45 seconds per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the lined tray.

Serve the crème anglaise with a meringue island floating in each bowl, topped with a spoon of reheated caramel sauce. 

for Crème Anglaise

Bring the milk, cream and vanilla bean to a simmer in a saucepan.

Remove from the heat and infuse for 15 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until light. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture. Return the custard to the saucepan and stir on low heat for 5 minutes (do not boil) until thick. It should leave a path on the back of a spoon when a finger is drawn through it. Strain through a fine sieve.