Pistachio floating islands

In this version of the classic French pudding, îles flottantes, fluffy poached meringues studded with pistachios float on a creamy vanilla custard. A flourish of fresh blueberry coulis is the finishing touch to this sophisticated dessert.

Pistachio floating islands


  • 600 ml low–fat milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • Pistachio meringues
  • 1 large eggwhite
  • ¼ cup (55 g) caster sugar
  • ¼ cup (35 g) chopped unsalted pistachios
  • 250 g blueberries
  • 1½ tablespoons icing sugar, sifted


  1. Pour the milk into a medium–sized frying pan.
  2. Split the vanilla pod down its length with a sharp knife and scrape out the tiny black seeds into the milk.
  3. Cut the pod in half and add to the pan with the sugar.
  4. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.
  5. Meanwhile, in a clean bowl whisk the eggwhite for the meringues to soft peaks.
  6. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar, then continue whisking for about 1 minute, or until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
  7. Gently fold in the pistachios.
  8. When the milk is just simmering, spoon on the meringue in 4 neat mounds.
  9. Poach gently for 5 minutes, turning once, until the meringues feel set.
  10. Remove with a draining spoon onto paper towel and set aside.
  11. Strain the milk into a heavy–based saucepan.
  12. Mix together the egg yolks and cornflour, then whisk into the milk.
  13. Cook over a very low heat for 5–7 minutes, stirring all the time, until smooth and thickened.
  14. Do not allow the custard to boil or it will curdle.
  15. If it does start to curdle, immediately strain it through a fine sieve into a clean pan.
  16. Remove the custard from the heat and pour it into a large, shallow serving bowl or onto 4 individual plates or dishes.
  17. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
  18. Meanwhile, make the blueberry coulis.
  19. Put the blueberries and icing sugar in a small saucepan with 2 teaspoons water.
  20. Simmer over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 4–5 minutes, or until the blueberries burst and release their juices.
  21. Press the mixture through a sieve and leave to cool.
  22. Float the meringues on the custard and drizzle a little blueberry coulis over them.
  23. Serve immediately, with the rest of the coulis separately.

Serves 4
Preparation: 35 minutes, plus at least 30 minutes chilling
Cooking: about 15 minutes


Milk, Eggs and Cheese

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