Dulces: Islas Flotantes de Coco (Coconut Floating Islands)


Drift away. [Photograph: María del Mar Sacasa]

Before anyone gets their knickers all twisted and tied: I know islas flotantes are French îles flottantes and not at all Latin American.

Serious Eater: "Why are they in your Dulces column, then?" MDMS: "Because I made them and that makes them Latin."

I'm being facetious. The reason this French dessert is surfacing here under a Spanish alias is that islas flotantes are a served in many homes and restaurants around Latin America. The construction is the same as in their land of provenance: small mounds of feathery meringues float swanlike in a still, chilled pool of crème anglaise threaded with amber caramel sauce.

Though some recipes call for baking the meringues and then slipping them into the custard, I follow the more traditional route and poach them. A bite reveals that these islands are rather more like clouds.

Cool and light, the dessert is simple and sophisticated. My variation on the recipe incorporates coconut: shredded coconut is folded into the islands and coconut milk flavors their custard bath. The light caramel drizzle is accompanied by a cashew crunch, which adds lovely contrasting texture.

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