Friday, September 19, 2008

Thomas Keller Recipes: Ile Flottante

This is an Ile flottante like I've never seen before! What class. What refinement. What a surprise. We learned how to make the traditional île flottante dessert in the Anglo program at Ecole Ferrandi (Ecole Supérieure de Cuisine Française). It tasted GREAT. It looked nice....the caramel added a nice touch (see below). However, I haven't made it at home since then, even though I like the flavors. I simply wasn't motivated. Maybe it had something to do with no chocolate!
Made at Ecole Ferrandi, 2006
But that all changed when I saw this one in Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook (1999). This one inspired me! And this recipe requires some inspiration because, in fact, what looks so simple is actually an accumulation of a lot of steps. But it's oh-so-worth- it!

If you want to see the process on how this is made, check out this incredible blog, French Laundry at Home . She does an awesome job of showing all the steps. It involves:
  1. Making a mint oil ==> it's hard to see in mine, but it's under the black dots in the crème anglaise. The black dots are a reduction of balsamic vinaiger which I added on my own - it's not part of Keller's recipe. My mint oil didn't infuse long enough & wasn't green enough, so that's why I ended up adding the balsamic which, by the way, tasted great with it!
  2. Making the meringue
  3. Making a chocolate mousse for putting inside the meringue. This is the best part. Chocolate!
  4. Making the chocolate tuiles.
  5. Shaving the chocolate (tempering the chocolate & then shaving it with a chef's knife; this is the long way to do it. You can also just use a vegetable peeler & peel a block of chocolate if you want or have a block.)
  6. Making candy sprinkles (blitzing a candy bar in my Cuisineart; another addition I made because I thought it would taste good. And it did!).
  7. Making the crème anglaise.
  8. Assembling it (ie, emptying a hole in the meringue, spooning in the chocolate mousse & then trimming the outside to make it look perfect)
  9. Plating it.
But this is worth the effort! We had a nice dinner & finished it with this dessert. The chocolate mousse inside is a GREAT surprise since it's not part of the traditional dessert. The thing that was so amazing is how light this tasted. It was full of flavor - the mint, meringue, crème anglaise, and chocolate all worked so well together! And yet, we were not weighed down by a heavy dessert. In fact, it left us wishing we could have a just a little bit more! That, in my opinion, is the right way to end a dinner and the sign of a good dessert! Can't wait to make these again.

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