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Recipe of the Month: Île flottante

At the suggestion of my wife, who knows better than anyone the significance of food in my life, I am beginning a new blog feature: Recipe of the Month. The recipe for May 2011 is the French dessert called île flottante, or floating island. It is a light, sweet dessert that adds a touch of elegance to your dinner table and is a good alternative to a bowl of ice cream. 

I came across this recipe in my Hugunot research, and I was looking for an authentic Huguenot recipe that is also now a part of American cuisine, especially southern cuisine. My search led me to John Martin Taylor, an authority on Lowcountry cuisine of South Carolina (and a whole lot of other cuisines). Though he gave me a list of French recipes that have also become part of Lowcountry cuisine, he said, "It would be very hard to pinpoint them as specifically Huguenot." So, though the Huguenots have left indelible traces of their influence in South Carolina, cuisine is not one area where that influence can be historically verified. But it is for sure that île flottante (also called œufs à la neige) came from France and is part of Lowcountry cuisine.

NOTE: The Huguenot torte is neither Huguenot nor a torte, according to Taylor.

Rather than post a recipe, I will direct you to recipes on several websites, which may be lazy but is also honest because my recipe was an amalgamation of these. I did not use the vanilla pods that a lot of them call for, just plain ol' vanilla extract. I also didn't make the caramel to drizzle on top. But to show you that I really did make île flottante and that it turned out all right for my first try, I will post a photo.

My wife said she liked it. I did too, but being a harsher critic of my own cooking, I also thought that my crème anglaise was a bit lumpy, not as smooth as John Martin Taylor could have made it, I'm sure.


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