ÎLE FLOTTANTE (FLOATING ISLAND)
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean
1/3 cups sugar
5 large eggs yolks
Sliced Island Meringues:
1/2 cup egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons water
Proceed to make a custard by heating the milk with the vanilla bean to scalding temperature (180 degrees.), whisking the sugar into the yolks, and then pouring the hot milk over the sugar and yolks whisking continuously.
Return the mixture to a saucepan and heat, stirring constantly until the custard thickens and begins to coat the bottom and sides of the pan (170 degree). Strain the custard into a serving bowl to cool.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Butter and flour a 8" cake pan. Combine the whites with 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar in the workbowl of an electric mixer. Begin whisking slowly, add the cream of tartar. When peaks are stiff, add the remaining sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn the machine up to medium speed and add the vanilla.
Spoon the meringue into the prepared pan and bake for 20 - 30 minutes until they are puffed and lightly browned. A knife piercing the center will come out clean.
Allow the whites to cool in the pan. Divide into islands and pile on the custard. (Meringue can also be refrigerated up to 2 days.
Bring the sugar and water to a simmer, taking care to dissolve the sugar before the syrup begins to boil. Cook until the sugar caramelizes to a medium brown. Drizzle it directly over the floating islands in a free-form pattern.
Chill thoroughly before serving.