- Cashew crunch adapted from Ina Garten.
- Do not confuse coconut milk with the sweet, syrupy cream of coconut—cream of coconut will not work in this recipe.
- For the Floating Islands
- 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- For the Coconut Crème Anglaise
- 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- For the Cashew Crunch
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups roasted and salted cashews, coarsely chopped
For the Floating Islands: Line baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels.
Bring coconut milk and cream to simmer over medium-low heat in large heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Meanwhile, whip egg whites and salt to soft peaks at medium-high speed, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, gradually add sugar. Continue whipping until stiff, glossy peaks from, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Fold in coconut.
Using 2 soup spoons, scoop out meringues 1 at a time into an egg-like shape and gently slide into simmering coconut milk mixture (there will be 8 total—poach in batches of 4). Poach 1 to 2 minutes, then turn over and poach for another 1 to 2 minutes. Meringues will puff slightly and firm up, then deflate as they cool. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
Strain the coconut milk mixture into bowl and wipe out saucepan.
For the Coconut Crème Anglaise: Whisk eggs yolks and sugar in large bowl until very thick and pale yellow.
Slowly pour warm coconut milk mixture into egg mixture. Return mixture to large saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thickened: mixture should coat the back of spoon, and, if you run a finger across it, a clear trail will be left, 3 to 5 minutes. Don’t cook mixture over 180°F—it will curdle.
Strain sauce into bowl, then stir in rum and vanilla. Press plastic wrap directly onto sauce and refrigerate until completely chilled, about 2 hours. Alternatively, place bowl in ice bath and stir until chilled, 5 to 10 minutes.
For the Cashew Crunch: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine sugar and 1/2 cup water in medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, stirring over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and boil, swirling pan occasionally, until syrup turns amber, 15 to 20 minutes. Immediately remove from heat.
Carefully add remaining 1/2 cup water and vanilla: mixture will bubble and sputter. Once syrup has settled, return pan to heat and cook, stirring over medium heat, until temperature reaches 230°F on candy thermometer.
In medium bowl, combine cashews and 1/4 cup of syrup. Lightly coat both sides of rubber spatula with nonstick cooking spray, then scrape out mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Flatten out into single layer.
Bake crunch until deep golden and fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Break into pieces. Cashew crunch may be prepared up to 2 days in advance and stored at room temperature.
For the Caramel Sauce: Transfer remaining caramel to microwave-safe pitcher or glass liquid measuring cup. Caramel sauce may be prepared up to 2 days in advance and stored at room temperature. If it hardens, microwave for 20 to 30 seconds until it becomes liquid.
To Serve: Divide crème anglaise among 8 dessert plates. Place a meringue on top of each pool, then top with cashew crunch and drizzle with caramel.
2 large baking sheets, parchment paper, medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, wooden mixing spoon, candy thermometer, rubber spatula, cooling rack, microwave-safe pitcher or liquid measuring cup, paper towels, electric mixer, 2 soup spoons, strainer, large heavy-bottomed saucepan, plastic wrap