Floating islands are meringues poached in milk or steamed water and served floating in a Crème Anglaise and usually drizzled with a little caramel. Make the Crème Anglaise ahead so it’s chilled and ready to go but prepare the floating meringues before serving so they hold their shape.
In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot, combine milk, sugar and vanilla. Bring just to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat. Mix egg yolks in a bowl. Stir the egg yolks while slowly pouring the hot milk mixture over top to temper the egg yolks. Add egg and milk mixture back to a clean pot. Cook over medium low heat while continually stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture coats the back of a spoon. Do not boil or the eggs will scramble. Strain through a fine-meshed strainer. Bring to room temperature. Store in refrigerator. Serve chilled.
Set a medium saucepan on low heat with enough water to cover saucepan to a depth of about 2-inches. Bring to a gentle simmer and keep at a temperature just below boiling.
Meanwhile, whip egg whites with pinch salt in a stand mixer fitted with whip attachment for about 2 minutes or until whites start to turn white. Gradually add half the sugar while continuing to whip on high speed. Beat until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Gradually add remaining sugar and beat another 1 to 2 minutes or until stiff peaks hold.
Form meringues into oval mounds with two spoons (about 2-inch long spoons). Poach, allowing room for them to expand, about 6 at a time, about 3 to 4 minutes, turn and cook another 3 to 4 minutes. Keep temperature of water just below boiling and cook meringues until just firm to the touch. Remove with slotted spoon. Pat meringues on paper towel to remove moisture. Set aside until caramel is ready.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, cook sugar with water on high until it begins to smoke and turns amber in colour. Remove from heat immediately.
To serve, float meringue mounds in Crème Anglaise and drizzle with warm caramel.