I adapted this recipe to make a tall dessert, or merengón, as Adriana’s mother calls it (which is Spanish for ‘big meringue’). I was
taught this recipe ages ago, literally, and what do you know, Dorie’s proportions in the book, our FFWD challenge today, are exactly the same as mine, which is a very old heritage recipe. Go figure. I only omitted the teaspoon of vanilla extract because, well, you know, we’re making a pool of dulce de leche and caramel, we have enough vanilla flavor for now.
I have to admit I barely read the instructions and just made it the way I always do. I caramelize a large tube pan, beat the meringue and bake it in a water bath for the specified time, leaving it in the turned off oven to cool down, like I do with my cheesecakes. It shrinks, and then goes into the fridge till the next day, where it shrinks even more, like a souffle. But the texture after that is smooth and airy, just perfect; the knife cuts effortlessly into it, it doesn’t move, the island, it just stays tall.
While this is nothing more than baked meringue, the proportions are not your usual, if you take those of italian meringue, or swiss, my favorite, the one I use for things like the dulce de leche mille feuille, the amount of sugar per white is much smaller. It holds firm peaks but there’s a shiny quality missing, not glossy like an expensive magazine cover but more like door paint, my doors at least; yet the floating island will float in your mouth, almost a whisper of a bite dissolving before you know. Except we do have all the double caramel gooeyness dripping from the spoon, so sticky, so achingly sweet it doesn’t even bother me, because I want to lick the plate if I may.
You can make this one or two days before you plan to serve it, or even three, just like a cheesecake or a flan. And what to serve it with? Crème anglaise or zabaglione are the usual choices, because of the leftover egg yolks really. But a light chocolate sauce with fresh berries goes great too. Or even lemon curd.
FLOATING ISLAND IN CARAMEL AND DULCE DE LECHE