Recreate Justine Schofield’s Floating Islands as featured live on stage in The Kitchen by Harris Scarfe at the 2023 Good Food & Wine Show.

This would have to be one of my favourite desserts to cook and eat. The main reason is that I love to see basic ingredients – like milk, eggs and sugar – transformed into a masterpiece. This is an old-school French dessert that really shows off two essential techniques: the art of poaching meringues and perfecting the king of custards, crème anglaise. Floating islands is a must-try dessert if you have guests coming over, as everything can be made in advance. And just wait until you taste it: meringues as light and fluffy as clouds paired with silky smooth custard. The ultimate dessert pleasure!

Serves: 4 | Prep: 20 minutes, plus overnight chilling | COOK: 30 minutes

800 ml milk
1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
8 egg yolks
70 g caster sugar
30 g pistachio kernels, toasted and finely chopped

4 egg whites
½ teaspoon lemon juice
110 g caster sugar


Heat the milk and vanilla pod and seeds in a large, deep frying pan. Bring just to the boil, then turn down the heat to low.

For the meringue, place the egg whites and lemon juice in a clean bowl and, using an electric mixer, whisk on medium speed until frothy. Sprinkle in half of the sugar and whisk until dissolved, then slowly whisk in the remaining sugar until the meringue is smooth and glossy and stiff peaks form.

Line a tray with a clean tea towel. Using two dessertspoons, shape the meringue into four large (about 1 cup of meringue per island) or eight small quenelles – they do not have to be perfect – and gently lower into the hot milk in the pan. Poach for 3–4 minutes, then carefully turn over and poach on the other side for 4 minutes until springy to the touch. Remove the poached meringue islands with a slotted spoon, place on the lined tray and cool to room temperature, then lightly cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge. Reserve the milk.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until thick and pale. Pour in half of the reserved hot milk, gently whisk to combine, then whisk in the remaining milk. Strain the mixture into a clean saucepan and over medium heat stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the custard’s consistency is like pouring cream. Strain the crème anglaise into a presentation bowl or decorative individual glass bowls, cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and cool to room temperature, before chilling for 6 hours or overnight in the fridge.

To serve, carefully arrange the poached meringues in the crème anglaise and decorate with a sprinkling of pistachios.


  • When making the crème anglaise, don’t pour the milk in all at once as it may curdle the egg yolks.
  • Place a wet cloth under your bowl when whisking the egg yolks and pouring in the milk. It will help stabilise your bowl so it doesn’t move.