This Neige Fleur de Caramel is velvety smooth on the tongue and rich in taste.
750 ml milk
50 ml heavy cream
1 vanilla bean or pure vanilla extract
9 egg yolks
6 egg whites
180g confectioners' sugar
80g sugar cubes
1 drop of vinegar
MAKE THE VANILLA CUSTARD
1. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds. In a saucepan heat the milk with vanilla seeds just to the boiling point. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the 100 g sugar. Gradually, add the hot milk whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
3. Cook over a medium heat for 4–5 minutes, until the custard begins to thicken. Stir constantly to distribute the heat and lift the spoon every 10–15 seconds to check if the sauce is thickening (when it is ready it will coat the back of the spoon). Do not boil or the eggs will curdle.
4. Using a fine medium-sized strainer, strain immediately into a large bowl. Continue stirring for 2 minutes to stop any further cooking, otherwise the custard could scramble. (if this happens, don’t panic! Pour it immediately into a blender or food processor and blend for 30–40 seconds so it regains its consistency).
5. In a medium bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add to vanilla cream. Let cool. Pour into a serving bowls and chill for 3 hours.
MAKE THE MERINGUE
6. In a large bowl, using an electrical mixer, beat the egg whites and the rest of sugar (80g) on full power, for at least 10 minutes until the mixture forms shiny, firm peaks.
POACHING THE MERINGUE
7. With a large spoon, carefully scoop out 3 or 4 large chunks of meringue. Poach in the gently simmering water or milk for 5 minutes on each side. Take great care not to damage the delicate meringue when turning it over. If the water or milk begins to boil and rise out of the pan, turn down the heat and gently push the meringue sideways.
8. Carefully lift the poached meringue on to a baking tray. Set aside. Strain the milk into a saucepan.
MAKING THE CARAMEL
9. In a small saucepan, put the sugar cubes, 3 tablespoon of water and one drop of vinegar. Let the sugar absorb the water over high heat then reduce to medium heat. Leave, without stirring, until the sugar has dissolved and formed a syrup. Simmer until it turns to a golden brown caramel. Immediately place the bottom of the saucepan in cold water to stop the caramel cooking any further.
10. Carefully place the poached meringues on top of the vanilla custard. Pour a fine coating of caramel over the poached meringues. Wait a few seconds until the caramel sets before serving.
MAKE THE CARAMEL DECORATIONS, if desired
11. Drizzle some caramel onto a piece of parchment paper with the tines of a fork and let it cool for about ten minutes then stuck a piece into the back of the meringue.
“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe."― Thomas Keller