Want to truly pamper your family or your guests? Serve them this spectacular low-carb, ketogenic dessert! I call it Chocolaty Floating Islands: it’s a French-style indulgence in which fluffy meringue islands float elegantly on top of rich, velvety chocolate custard. (This sublime treat is perfect for those who don’t tolerate dairy, by the way.)
Tips for preparing the Chocolaty Floating Islands
For beating the egg yolks and egg whites, use deep and narrow bowls. The beating time is shorter and you’ll get a fluffier result. In the video, I’ve used a bowl for the egg yolks that’s a bit too large, but I did this on purpose to make it easier for you to see what’s going on inside it.
Feel free to adjust the sweetness to your taste. It’s always easier to start with less sweetener and add more if needed. The 1/3 cup (80 ml) powdered erythritol (Confectioner’s Style Swerve) in the recipe tasted just right to me, but you might want to start with 1/4 cup (60 ml) and add more to taste. You can also adjust the sweetness with (vanilla) stevia. The reason I use two different sweeteners here is to avoid the aftertaste characteristic to sweeteners and to maximize sweetness levels.
I recommend using as dark a chocolate as you can find. Personally, I prefer 90% chocolate, but if you want to reduce carbs to a minimum, feel free to use baking chocolate with 100% cocoa content. Dark chocolate ensures that the custard is flavorful and has a really rich chocolate taste.
When cooking the custard in the saucepan to let it thicken, be sure not to let it boil hard. It might develop minuscule lumps that ruin the velvety experience. Just place the custard over a very low heat and mix all the time until you see that the custard has thickened a bit. It will thicken even more when cooling down.
Okay, let’s talk about preparing the meringues, a.k.a. the “islands”. First of all, even though the meringue is poached in boiling water, it won’t necessarily be cooked through. So if you are afraid of raw eggs, it’s better to omit the meringue (see the tips for variations at the end of the post for further suggestions). The egg yolks are very well cooked through, though.
When you poach the “islands”, there is no need to flip them while cooking. Don’t cover the saucepan either. And, you definitely don’t want to cook the islands for too long, otherwise you’ll end up with a dense egg white omelet instead of fluffy meringue!
But let’s take a look at how to prepare this exceptional dessert:
Take five eggs.
Place all the yolks into a relatively large, and preferably deep, bowl.
Save three egg whites for the meringue islands and reserve the remaining two egg whites for other recipes (like this crunchy granola that uses one egg white, or this amazing sugar-free marzipan that also calls for one egg white. Or how about this fluffy frosting which requires three egg whites? This outstanding mousse is also a very good option, since it calls for exactly two egg whites. No waste here!) Place all the egg whites into the fridge once you are ready to use them.
Take the bowl with the five egg yolks and add 1/3 cup (80 ml), or the desired amount, of powdered erythritol.
Beat until very fluffy and pale. This might take 5-10 minutes. Use a narrow bowl to get a perfect result as quickly as possible.
You can also tilt the bowl to speed up the process.
Now it’s fluffy and pale.
Next, pour the almond milk into a large saucepan.
Heat until piping hot. Don’t boil.
Now, add the hot almond milk into the beaten egg yolks very carefully while beating all the time with the electric mixer. Don’t do this too quickly, otherwise the mixture will lose its fluffiness!
Still fluffy, well, and foamy.
Once you’ve added all the milk, transfer the mixture back into the saucepan.
Heat over low heat, constantly mixing, until the custard thickens.
Then, remove from the heat and add the vanilla stevia…
…and the chopped chocolate.
…until the chocolate is completely melted.
Refrigerate until cold. I simply brought the saucepan outside because it’s exactly the temperature of the fridge here in Finland at the moment.
Btw, our jack-o’-lanterns are still doing pretty well outside…
…unlike this fella on our kitchen table, who looks like he’s suffered a bit. Actually, he looks pretty evil!
And while you wait for the custard to cool down, you can, for example, pet a cat…
…or take a nap.
Or simply clean up the mess. Actually, since it takes some hours for the custard to cool down, you probably have time to do all of the above.
But back to the dessert preparations. When the custard is cold and you are ready to serve the dessert, prepare the “islands” or meringues. Boil 4 cups (950 ml) water in a medium saucepan.
While waiting for the water to boil, take the three egg whites from the fridge and ensure that they are in a deep and narrow bowl.
Add powdered erythritol to the egg whites.
Beat until stiff peaks form.
Your water should be boiling at this point, so grab a tablespoon and use it to scoop up a neat mound from the egg white mixture (the meringue).
Place the mound carefully into the boiling water.
Add another mound of meringue to the boiling water.
Let boil for one minute at most.
Remove from the water…
…and place on a kitchen towel to cool down. Repeat with the rest of the meringue.
Now, serve the dessert. Divide the custard into six dessert bowls.
Add an island or two carefully on top of each serving.
You can also add chocolate shavings for extra texture and taste.
My floating island experiments
Floating Island is a classic French dessert that consists of a meringue floating on top of vanilla custard (crème anglaise). My mom loved to make this dessert when I was kid, and I was a huge fan of it.
I’ve wanted to develop a low-carb version of this dessert for ages. At first, I was planning to create a traditional version made with vanilla custard, but then I thought that chocolate custard would be even more scrumptious, and would really be something special. After all, who doesn’t love chocolate? And vanilla is just, well, vanilla.
There are versions of this dessert in which the meringue plays a big part. In those recipes, there is a colossal meringue island majestically rising from a tiny pond of custard. As I’m more of a friend of custard — especially chocolaty custard! — than I am of meringue, I wanted to do things the other way around. For my Chocolaty Floating Islands, I imagined a whole sea of heavenly chocolaty custard topped with a small, neat dollop of meringue.
From the first moment it was clear that I would also make my chocolaty low-carb version dairy-free. So I pondered different options for dairy-free milk. I decided to see what kind of result coconut milk would yield.
For my first experiment, I took 5 eggs that I separated. I saved 3 egg whites for the islands and 2 for other purposes. I combined the 5 egg yolks with 1/4 cup (60 ml) powdered erythritol (a brand that’s not that sweet) and beat the combo until very fluffy and pale.
Then I took 2 cups (480 ml) coconut milk and heated them in a medium saucepan — actually, the saucepan was on the small side, I think. When the milk was hot, I carefully poured it into the beaten egg yolks, beating all the time with the electric mixer. The result was really thick and voluminous. At this point, I tasted the mixture and it wasn’t really sweet so I added another 1/4 cup (60 ml) of powdered erythritol.
I poured the voluminous mixture back into the saucepan, which was now totally full. I was supposed to heat and mix the custard so that it would get even thicker. But the saucepan was so full that there really was no space to mix it. I had to mix very carefully.
Somehow I succeeded in heating the custard so that it was even thicker than it was when I poured it into the saucepan. But then I faced another problem: I realized I had to add both vanilla stevia and chopped chocolate to the already full saucepan! Well, I didn’t have any other choice except to do it and to see if the custard would spill over. I had to think of Archimedes and his “Eureka!” moment when he stepped into the bath tub and the water level rose.
But to my surprise, the custard didn’t spill over when I added the stevia and the chocolate and whisked the custard until the chocolate had melted. Whew! By the way, for my first experiment, I intentionally used 54% sugar-free chocolate, not the dark chocolate I was planning to use in the final recipe. It’s just that I had plenty of that 54% chocolate and it was cheap. I had bought very dark chocolate from Germany and there wasn’t too much of it left (note to self: buy a few boxes of 90% Mild Lindt Chocolate when you go to Germany next time). Here in Finland there isn’t a great selection of really dark chocolate and the brands that do exist are dreadfully expensive.
I brought the saucepan with the hot custard outside to cool down. One advantage of living in a cold country is that when you need some fridge space, you simply bring your food outside where the air is exactly the temperature of the fridge. And in the wintertime, you can use the outdoors as a freezer.
I peeked at the saucepan once in a while, checking to see if the custard had cooled down. That took several hours. When the custard was fridge-cold (or should I say “outdoor-cold”), I planned to prepare the meringue islands.
I had reserved three egg whites to make the islands. I beat them with 2 tablespoons of powdered erythritol until they became a fluffy meringue—that is, until stiff peaks formed. While I was beating the egg whites, I boiled 4 cups (950 ml) water, in which I was going to poach the meringues.
I’d never made this type of dessert before, so I was a bit hesitant at this stage. But I took a spoonful of meringue and carefully placed it into the boiling water. I repeated this with another spoonful, and yet another. Soon there were four neat islands swimming on top of the boiling water. They expanded drastically and soon filled the whole saucepan. Well, lesson learned. Don’t be greedy: make just two islands at a time.
I also tried some meringue versions in which I turned them over while cooking. Not good. That procedure resulted in egg-white omelets. I also experimented to see what would happen if I covered the saucepan while cooking. Now the meringues expanded a lot and even pushed the lid of the saucepan away! Moreover, the result was also slightly omelet-like, so covering the saucepan wasn’t an option either. I got the best results when I cooked two islands at a time with a maximum boiling time of one minute.
I placed the poached meringues on a plate covered with paper towels to cool down. I was afraid that they might lose some of their volume and just collapse after cooling. Luckily this didn’t happen, and they stayed gloriously fluffy for several hours. Magnificent!
I was quite happy with the first experiment, but the slight coconut-milk note was troubling me. I thought unsweetened almond milk might work better: it’s very neutral tasting. It also helps reduce the carb count as it’s even lower in carbs than coconut milk.
Plus, the first experiment was far too sweet. Since 1/4 cup (60 ml) powdered erythritol was too little and 1/2 cup (120 ml) too much, maybe the optimum amount would be 1/3 cup (80 ml).
For my next experiment, I took some of my precious 90% chocolate. I also used almond milk instead of coconut milk and this time I added only 1/3 cup (80 ml) powdered erythritol (Confectioner’s Style Swerve). Now I was super-satisfied with the result. The custard was rich and chocolaty and had just the right level of sweetness. Also, my islands were more of a success this time around, when I cooked them for a bare minute. A perfect dessert, I would say!
|Approximate nutrition information:||Protein||Fat||Net carbs||kcal|
|In total:||34.7 g||64.1 g||9.5 g||761 kcal|
|Per serving if 6 servings in total:||5.8 g||10.7 g||1.6 g||127 kcal|
Tips for variation
If you think making the meringue islands is too laborious, you can certainly create a simpler version by omitting the islands and adding dollops of whipped cream on top of each serving (that is, if you tolerate dairy). For a really easy chocolate custard version, check out this recipe.
If you want an even thicker custard and you don’t have to absolutely minimize the carb count, use coconut milk in place of the almond milk: it makes a really thick custard that’s still very low in carbs.
Why not make a holiday version of this dessert by adding a couple of drops of peppermint oil to the custard? Or, experiment with different flavored stevias in place of the vanilla stevia. (Hint: there’s a peppermint cookie-flavored stevia on the market nowadays!)
You can also get adventurous and create a Mexican chocolate version of this floating island dessert by adding 1 teaspoon ground Ceylon cinnamon and a pinch (just a pinch!) of cayenne pepper or chipotle.
If you are not in the mood for custard, make ice cream from the cold chocolate custard in an ice cream maker. It makes a perfect chocolate ice cream! Top it with grated chocolate for extra flavor and crunch.