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Floating Islands with Caramel Sauce

3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, separated
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 recipe for caramel sauce

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

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