That luscious, indulgent French dessert, Oeufs à la Neige. Soft, light, sweet poached meringues floating in a pool of rich, golden crème anglaise, topped with a sprinkling of crisp almond praline.
Serves 6 – 8
Preparation: 10 minutes for the praline, 45 minutes for the meringue, 10 minutes for the crème anglaise, plus an hour or more chilling and 5 minutes assembly
Note: This will make more than you need, but it can be stored indefinitely in an airtight container, or ground in a food processor to add to pastry cream or other desserts.
75g (2/5 cup or 7 Tbsp) granulated sugar
25ml (2 Tbsp less 1 tsp) water
50g (1/2 cup) slivered almonds
In a medium, heavy-based saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil, until the sugar has completely melted.
Add the slivered almonds to the boiling sugar mixture and stir continuously so as not to burn the nuts. The sugar will “sand” but will melt again then become golden. Pour out onto a silicon mat or a baking sheet lined with wax paper to cool.
6 large egg whites (reserve the yolks)
pinch of salt
150g (3/4 cup) granulated (white) sugar
600 ml (2 1/2 cups) whole milk
Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add a pinch of salt and begin to beat on medium high speed until you have soft peaks.
While continuing to beat, add the sugar by tablespoons until completely incorporated.
Increase the speed to high and beat the whites until you have stiff peaks. You should be able to hold the bowl upside down without any spilling out.
While you are beating the whites, bring the milk to a simmer in a medium, wide-based saucepan. It needs to be steaming but not bubbling to poach the meringue.
With two tablespoons (one to scoop, one to help ease the meringue off the other spoon), spoon 2 or 3 oval-shaped meringues into the milk. They will puff up a bit and can be delicate to turn, so don’t be tempted to make them to big or do too many at a time.
Poach for 2 – 3 minutes, until set, turn over with the help of a spoon and poach the other side for 2 – 3 minutes.
Once they are done, remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. They will drain and deflate a bit.
Set meringues aside (room temperature is okay if serving within a couple of hours, otherwise refrigerate them) and reserve the milk for the crème anglaise.
6 large egg yolks
reserved milk from poaching the egg whites
150g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
extra milk as needed
In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks until fluffy.
Strain the milk into a clean medium saucepan and top up with more milk as needed to make 500ml (2 good cups), add the sugar and vanilla and bring to a simmer.
Pour about 1/3 of the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly.
Return the milk to the heat and, while continuing to whisk, pour the yolk mixture into the milk in a slow stream. Stir the mixture continuously over low heat until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Pour the mixture through a strainer into a bowl and cool it in the fridge, stirring occasionally.
Once the custard has been chilled, spoon it into serving dishes, gently place one or two or three of the poached meringues on top, and decorate with your topping of choice – nut praline, spun sugar, shaved chocolate…