Hungarian "Floating Island" recipe

floating island

🍴Servings: 4

🥣Category: Desserts

💪Difficulty Level: 3/5 

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The Hungarian Floating Island (In Hungarian: “Madártej” – alias Bird’s milk) is a dessert of French origin, which is a vanilla pudding with egg white sponge.

The story of Floating Island

Although the version popularised in Central Europe is based on a recipe for a classic French dessert (œufs à la neige) published in the early 19th century, the original 17th century version consisted of egg yolks mixed with salted butter and cooked, and egg white foam sweetened when served.

The American line

In French cuisine, another version called îles flottantes (“floating islands”) is very common. Interestingly, the first written reference comes from America, namely from a letter written by Benjamin Franklin in 1771. Although the English/American recipe for floating islands originally included sponge cakes soaked in cherry brandy and spread with apricot jam, it later became almost identical to the other dessert, with the difference that here the beaten egg whites are prepared in a water bath, in an oven, similar to the soufflé, and instead of smaller dumplings, a larger foam island it “floats” on top of the crème anglaise, which has also been poured with caramel and sprinkled with toasted almond slices.

What is the "Floating Island" exactly?

A treat that adds sweetness to our daily lives. It’s built around a basic vanilla sauce, with islands of separately cooked, previously beaten egg white foam floating on top. Make careful to take it cold, since this is when the tastes come together. The Floating Island has a cult following in Hungary, where cakes and ice cream are produced for it.

Preparation techniques

When making the vanilla sauce, keep the following guidelines in mind:

– Cook over low heat, stirring continuously

– As soon as the sauce begins to thicken, remove it from the heat since the egg yolk will be overdone, resulting in a batter that resembles scrambled eggs

– Cook the egg white foams until they are approx. they swell 3x to ensure that they do not collapse once we remove them.

Cooking problems of "Island"

The milk tends to burn to the bottom of the pan while cooking egg white foams. Keep an eye on how high the flame is. But, there is no need to insist on cooking in milk; cooking in water works just as well. I also know a housewife who microwaves the foam islands, which I do not suggest.

When should the Floating Island be consumed?

I like it for breakfast, but it’s also excellent as a dessert after a hearty lunch. We normally make it in the summer and serve it ice cold as a refreshing summer treat. But we can actually make it whenever we want.


  • 6 eggs
  • 6+1 tbsp sugar
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar or extract
  • grated peel of a lemon


  1. Separate the eggs. Add 6 tablespoons sugar, the lemon zest and vanilla sugar to the egg yolks and beat until smooth.
  2. Add in 4-5 tablespoons of milk and mix well.
  3. Whip the egg whites with 1 tablespoon sugar.
  4. Bring the remaining milk to a boil and cut the knobs from the egg whites with a tablespoon and let them slide into the hot milk. Let the cams cook in the milk for about 2 minutes, on both sides. Remove “islands” from the milk.
  5. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the hot milk, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until almost thickened. Caution: do not boil completely, because yolks will be overcooked and get scrambled eggs.
  6. Let cool and serve the egg white islands with this delicious vanilla sauce.

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