1. Custard Sauce
- In a saucepan, off the heat, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until the mixture lightens in colour.
- Add the hot milk slowly while whisking. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 15 minutes or until the mixture coats easily the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl and let cool. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. In the meantime, prepare the floating island.
- With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 180 °C (350 °F). Butter a 2 litres (8 cups) capacity and about 10-cm (4-inch) high domed tube pan (with or without ornaments).
- In a bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks forms. Add the sugar and vanilla. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
- Spread the meringue into the pan, pressing well to avoid leaving air bubbles.
- Tap the pan on the counter, then place in a large baking dish filled with hot water halfway up the pan. Bake for about 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, run a knife around the top of the meringue to fully detach it from the pan. Unmould onto a buttered plate.
- Allow to cool.
- In a bowl, combine the strawberries and sugar. Let stand for about 10 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve completely.
- Pour the cold custard in a large and deep serving bowl. Add the floating island. Drizzle with the strawberry salsa and serve.
Customize your floating island I love this dessert because you can prepare it in a variety of ways, according to your wishes, ingredients and time available. Instead of baking the meringue in a mold, form meringue dumplings with two spoons and poach them in simmering milk, to be later used to prepare your custard. In a hurry? Poach your meringue in the microwave. Just to put a couple of meringue dumpling in a large dish filled with a little water and cook for about 25 seconds on high. You can also serve your floating island on a flavored custard. For example, add pieces of semisweet dark chocolate to your custard just before removing from the water bath. Stir to melt and put in fridge. For a coffee custard, replace about 60 ml (1/4 cup) of milk by the same amount of full-bodied espresso.