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Floating Islands with Caramel Sauce
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In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine 2 1/2 cups of the milk, 1/2 cup of the sugar and the vanilla over medium heat and whisk to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a gentle boil. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp of sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. With a wooden spoon, scoop 2 balls of the meringue into the simmering milk mixture. Poach the balls for 2-3 minutes, rolling them over with the spoon and basting them with the milk. When all sides are cooked (they will be slightly firm to the touch) lift them out with a slotted spoon and set aside on a platter. Scoop 2 more balls from the remaining meringue and repeat the process. The meringues can be stored for about 1 hour, loosely covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator until ready to use. In a small mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of milk, the egg yolks, and the cornstarch and whisk together. Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture, then pour into the warm mixture in the saucepan. Whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a gentle boil and cook until it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour into a glass bowl and let cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface of the custard to keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 8 hours. To serve, gently stir the custard and spoon equal amounts into 4 dessert bowls. Set a meringue ball on top of each and drizzle with caramel sauce. Makes 4 servings. Caramel Sauce 1 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup water 1 cup heavy cream In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil, stirring often. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture is a deep caramel color and has the consistency of a thick syrup, 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cream, return the saucepan to high heat and boil the sauce until it regains the consistency of a thick syrup, about 2 minutes. Let cool. The sauce can be refrigerated until ready to use. Allow it to reach room temperature before using it. Makes about 3/4 cup. Jan