- 2 medium egg whites
- 100 g (4oz) caster sugar
- 50 g (2oz) desiccated coconut, toasted
- 600 ml (1 pint) milk
- coole swan crème anglaise, to serve
- 1 tblsp toasted flaked almonds, to serve
- 2 tblsp raspberry coulis (shop bought), to serve
- 4 spun sugar baskets, to serve
- fresh raspberries, to decorate
- fresh tiny mint sprigs, to decorate
- 5 egg yolks
- 3 tblsp caster sugar
- 1/2 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
- 300 ml (1/2 pint) milk
- 100 ml (3 1/2fl oz) cream
- 100 g (4oz) caster sugar
- 1 tsp powdered glucose
- To make the floating islands, whisk the egg whites in a spotlessly clean, dry, large bowl until stiff. Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition, until glossy and stiff. Fold in the coconut until well combined.
- Place the milk in a large, deep frying pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Using 2 dessertspoons, shape the coconut meringue into a quenelle and drop into the milk, then repeat until you have 5 or 6 quenelles cooking in total. Poach for 4 minutes, turning once, until lightly set. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and plunge into a large bowl of iced water to cool down quickly and then drain on kitchen paper. Repeat until all the mixture is used up – there should be 12 meringues.
- To serve, pour the Coole Swan crème anglaise onto plates and carefully arrange 3 poached meringues on top. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds and drizzle with the raspberry purée. Carefully top each one with a spun sugar basket and decorate with the fresh raspberries and mint sprigs.
- Place the egg yolks in a large bowl with the sugar and vanilla seeds. Whisk with an electric mixer for a few minutes, until pale and thickened.
- Place the milk and cream in a medium pan and bring to the boil, then immediately remove from the heat.
- Gradually whisk the heated milk and cream into the egg yolk mixture until smooth, then pour back into the pan and place over a gentle heat. Cook gently for 6–8 minutes on a medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon.
- Serve hot or transfer to a large bowl. Press a sheet of clingfilm directly onto the surface of the custard to help prevent a skin from forming and leave to cool, then chill until needed. It can also be put into a squeezy bottle depending on how you want to use it. Use warm or cold as required.
- Place the sugar, powdered glucose and 120ml (4fl oz) water into a heavy-based pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until the mixture turns a golden caramel colour. Use a pure bristle pastry brush dipped in cold water to brush the inner sides of the pan to prevent sugar crystals from forming while simmering. Do not stir the sugar, as this will cause the syrup to crystallise and become hard.
- Using a sugar/jam thermometer, cook the syrup until it reaches 140°C (280°F). The sugar syrup should be a thick honey consistency and should not be too runny. It will thicken a little as it cools, but if it gets too thick, simply heat again and it will quickly loosen. Immediately remove from the heat and plunge the base of the pan into cold water to halt the cooking.
- To spin the sugar, dip a teaspoon into the syrup, then flick the teaspoon back and forth over a broom handle or rolling pin to create long hair-like strands. Gather up the strands of spun sugar and create shapes by simply moulding the strands in your hands. Arrange on a piece of parchment paper and do not touch until needed.
- Place a liberal amount of groundnut oil over the back of a ladle. When the sugar has become a state of liquid thread, use a spoon to scoop some of the sugar up and weave it backwards and forwards over and around your ladle to form a fine and intricate sugar basket. Gently remove the basket from the ladle and repeat until you have enough sugar baskets for your purpose. Arrange on a piece of parchment paper and do not touch until needed.
The spun sugar basket will keep in an airtight container for 2–3 days.