I first thought of this recipe a few months back when I did the chocolate almond meringues. I had put the first batch in the oven and found that I still had a cup or two of the whipped egg whites left. Since I tend to do a lot of midnight baking sessions and I didn’t want to have to bake again late into the night, I decided to make a simple île flottante recipe with the leftovers. Unfortunately I didn’t have the materials to make the cream sauce, so I didn’t bother photographing it.
However I decided to revisit the recipe again, only with an Asian twist. Matcha is a type of green tea that takes the leaves and grinds them into a flavorful, bright green powder. I incorporate that into the egg whites in this recipe. In the cream sauce, I use kuromitsu as a sweetener. Roughly translated into black honey in English, kuromitsu is a syrup made from a special black sugar. It has a flavor very similar to molasses.
I first tasted the stuff in a restaurant in Dallas. They topped a serving of ice cream with the kuromitsu and a dusting of kinako, roasted soybean flour. It was delicious. So, I decided to play with the dessert’s flavors. (For those that have never had kinako, it tastes a lot like ground peanuts, though more nutty.)
Enough with my mini story time, here is the recipe:
- 3 egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon matcha
Crème Anglaise, recipe partially inspired from one from Epicurious
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup milk, any type
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons kuromitsu, or extra dark brown sugar if not available
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- kinako to taste
- kuromitsu to taste
Step 1: Whip the egg whites until they have soft peaks. While the whites are whipping, mix the matcha with the sugar. Make sure there are no lumps of matcha powder or there will be bitter lumps of color in the meringue. Matcha is too strong a flavor when eaten straight.
Step 2: With the mixer on low, or stirring slowly, add the sugar mix in slowly. Wait until the sugar is mixed in fully before increasing the speed to avoid a cloud of matcha floating out of the mixing bowl. Whip the mixture until you achieve stiff peaks that are sturdy and hold their own in structure. Set aside.
Step 3: In a small sauce pan, heat the milk and cream while stirring occasionally. In another small bowl, mix the egg yolks and sugar until combined. When the milk/cream mixture starts to steam, remove from heat. Add a tablespoon or two of the liquid into the egg yolks. Mix to combine. This will thin out and warm up the yolks, preventing them from cooking in the next step.
Step 4: Add more milk mixture into the yolks until they create a thin liquid. Add them back into the warm milk in the saucepan. Return the pan to the heat. While stirring constantly over high heat, continue to cook the milk/egg mix. You will notice the bottom of the pan will start to accumulate a thicker cream as the crème Anglaise cooks. This is the beginnings of the sauce forming. Continue stirring, and cook until you create a homogenous mixture that coats the back of a spoon. You know you are done when you can swipe a finger across a sauce-coated spoon and the liquid keeps the trail open. Set the sauce aside.
Step 5: With a spoon, scoop a quenelle of meringue. You can do this by making repeated, sweeping wrist movements against the rim of your mixing bowl. This will make an almost egg-like shape. (This video does a good job describing the motion, however meringue will not move as uniformly as whipped cream, so no stress if it isn’t perfect at first.)
Step 6: Place your spoonful of meringue onto a plate, this will not be your serving plate. Add a teaspoon of water onto the base of the plate, try to avoid it touching your meringue too much. Microwave for 15-20 seconds. (Props go to Sorted Food for showing me this technique, I swear they are like my mini cooking school.)
Step 7: Pour some of the crème Anglaise into a shallow bowl. Place the meringue into the sauce. (This is where the name of this dish comes from. Île means island, flottant means floating. So the meringue is an island floating in a sea of crème Anglaise of sorts.) Sprinkle the kinako over the meringue and drizzle with kuromitsu.
*Last note, I strongly urge you guys to go to your local Asian grocery store and find kinako. It may be tempting to skip it as it is not a common ingredient, but that topping is what makes this dish. The nuttiness pairs well with the flavor of green tea.