In August 2008, I joined the online baking group, Tuesdays with Dorie. I had one goal: to bake and blog every single recipe in Dorie Greenspan's cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours. Three years and three months later I am here to tell you that I completed that goal. (And after you read this post, make sure to read this post with 42 pictures of all my catch-up recipes!)
I can tell you that Tuesdays with Dorie wasn't just a little side hobby. It became a big part of my life--an education, a passion and a way to express love to those around me. It didn't come without hard work, that's for sure. I know my fellow TWDers can attest to that. For a girl who works full-time, I found myself waking up early to bake, prepping ingredients during my lunch break and loosing more than a few hours of shut eye. Our food budget was spent on bulk flour, butter, heavy cream, whole milk and expensive chocolate. I figured if I was going to learn how to bake, and take the time, I was going to use the best ingredients possible.
I laugh sometimes when I think back to the time as I began my journey. I really don't think I knew what I was getting myself into. But how wonderful it has been and how my life has been enriched. I can tell you this friends, Dorie Greenspan taught me how to bake. I have gained a confidence in the kitchen, I have no fear. I feel any recipe handed to me will be a pleasure, a new discovery. I find myself connected to bakers around the world and bakers of the past. It's beautiful.
With my Tuesdays with Dorie journey at its end, I've discovered this: I can do anything. I can do anything I set my mind to. And so can you.
So with these words, I leave you with the very last recipe I made from Dorie's BFMHTY: Floating Islands. I waited three years to make this recipe. For some reason, I found it fitting to make Floating Islands last. It always seemed like it would be a challenge, and I wanted to execute the recipe perfectly.
Floating Islands felt fancy, French...and yet simple and a wonderful dessert for the home. There are three components to Floating Islands.
1 - Creme Anglaise
2 - Meringue
3 - Caramel
You can make the creme anglaise and the pillowy meringues ahead of time. Then right before, just make the caramel. This dessert is delicious.
Happy New Year's Eve. Here's to a delicious 2012!
by Dorie Greenspan in Baking: From My Home To Yours
Ingredients for Floating Islands
For the Crème Anglaise:
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the Islands:
2 cups milk
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
¼ cup sugar
For the Caramel (optional)
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup water
To make the crème anglaise: Bring the milk to a boil.
Meanwhile, put the yolk and sugar in a heavy saucepan and whisk vigorously until thick and pale, 2 to 3 minutes. Still whisking, drizzle in a little of the hot milk — this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining milk. Put the saucepan over medium-low heat and, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook until the custard thickens, lightens in color and coats the spoon (this can take 10 minutes or so) — if you run your finger down the spoon, the track should remain. For this recipe, the crème anglaise should be cooked until it reaches 180˚F on an instant-read thermometer.
Immediately remove the pan from the heat, strain the custard into a bowl and stir in the vanilla extract. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the custard to create an airtight seal and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, or for up to 3 days. (The crème anglaise will improve with at least on overnight rest.)
To make the islands: Spread a clean kitchen towel on the counter near the stove and have a large slotted spoon at hand. [The towel will help the floating islands drain after poaching.] Put the milk in a wide saucepan and bring it to a simmer over low heat.
Meanwhile, put the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a large bowl and a hand mixer. Beat the whites on medium speed just until foamy, then beat in the salt. When the eggs turn opaque, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and add the sugar about 1 tablespoon at a time. Whip until the meringue is firm but satiny and still glossy.
You have two options in shaping the islands: you can just scoop up some meringue — specifically, an amount about twice the size of an egg — in which case you'll have the equivalent of a rocky volcanic island, or you can smooth the meringue to get a manicured island. For the smooth look, use a large oval spoon to scoop up the meringue, then use another large oval spoon to very gingerly transfer the meringue from spoon to spoon a couple of times to form a smooth oval.
Either way, one by one, lower the islands into the simmering milk, adding only as many islands as you can fit into the pan without crowding. Poach the meringues for 1 minute, gently turn them over and poach 1 minute more, then lift the islands out of the milk and onto the towel. Repeat until you've poached 12 islands. Put the puffs (which will have inflated when poached and will deflate when cooled) on a wax paper-lined baking sheet and chill them for at least 1 hour, or for up to 3 hours.
To make the optional caramel: Decide whether you want to serve the meringues in one large bowl or six individual bowls, and have the bowl(s) at hand.
Right before serving, stir the sugar and water together in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat, bring the sugar to a boil and cook without stirring, swirling the pan occasionally, until the caramel turns a pale gold color, 6 to 8 minutes or so. Pull the pan from the heat and let the caramel cool just until it is thick enough to form threads when it is dropped from the tines of a fork. (If the caramel hardens, rewarm it slowly over low heat.)
Either pour the crème anglaise into a large serving bowl and top with the meringue islands, or make six individual servings. If using the caramel, working quickly, dip the tines of a fork into the caramel and wave the fork over the floating islands to create threads that will quickly harden.
Serving: Once the dessert has been assembled, it should be served immediately.
Storing: You can make both the crème anglaise and the meringue puffs in advance and keep them chilled, but the assembled dessert won't keep.