Floating islands – Madártej

by | May 6, 2015 | Desserts

Meringue floating on crème anglaise – this is the composition of this simple and light dessert of French origin. In Europe it’s known by different names: in France it’s called oeufs à la neige or île flottante –  the latter is the source of the English name -, in Spain its name is isla flotante, in Germany Scnee-Eier, in Hungary, Austria and Rumania it’s known as bird’s milk (madártej).

Eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla – that’s all you need to make floating islands (I often add lemon zest, too, as it makes the custard fresh). The quality of the custard depends on the number of eggs. Half liter of milk needs 5-7 egg yolks so that the custard becomes silky and has the right consistency. The ideal cooking temperature of crème anglaise is between 82-85°C, this is the reason why it’s recommended to cook it in a double boiler. It must not be hotter otherwise the final outcome will be scrambled eggs instead of custard.

But don’t push the panic button if you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, you can easily check the custard’s consistency: it’s ready when, if you lift the wooden spoon from the mixture and draw a line with your finger across the back of it, the line remains distinct.

Beaten egg whites can be cooked in milk or water, or in the microwave oven. This latter process is preferred by many chefs because it’s much easier and faster. In this case you can decide on cooking the egg white foam in portions by putting 3-4 balls at a time on a plate, or placing the whole amount of foam in a big microwave-safe bowl. The bowl has to be bigger than the volume of the beaten egg whites because during cooking the meringue grows big and emerges from the bowl.

Floating islands - Madártej
Floating islands – Madártej – photo: zserbo.com
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Hungarian cottage cheese

This is what Hungarian túró looks like

You often ask me what kind of cottage cheese (or curd cheese or farmer's cheese - call it what you want) I use in the recipes. In Hungary the store-bought cottage cheese is dry and crumbly as you can see in the picture. So if a recipe calls for túró, I mean this type. If you can't obtain túró, you can try to make your own from whole milk. Click on the link below.

Metric system vs cup

In Hungary metric units are in use, all the recipes on this website are based on this system, so a kitchen scale is necessary. Since I’m not familiar with cup as a measurement unit, I convert grams to cups by using an online converter. The values in brackets, therefore, are only approximate volumes, so, please, double-check them before you start cooking.

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