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10.11.11

HUNGARIAN FLOATING ISLANDS – MADÁRTEJ


Fluffy egg white clouds floating in custard… Madártej is a really nice dessert! The custard portion is cream Anglaise. Until you know what you are doing, madártej is not the easiest dessert to make. The curdling disasters arise from heating up the milk too fast or from high temperatures. You mustn’t let the milk come to a boil or the yolks will curdle. So the temperature should be no higher than 175F or 80C. It’s easy to tell when the custard is at its optimum temperature without a thermometer though. Hold a wooden spoon sideways that is covered with custard and run your finger along the back of the spoon. If the streak remains without the cream running down through the streak, it is ready. There are other ways you can overcome custard failures; the first one is to cook the egg yolk-milk mixture in a double boiler, which heats up gently. The other one is adding 1 Tbsp of all purpose flour to the egg yolks. This might not be the purist approach, but if this works who will be the wiser? If you don’t make cream Anglaise often, why not save yourself some trouble? Traditionally the egg white clouds were cooked in milk, but it’s much simpler to cook the clouds in water. You cannot tell if the whites were cooked in water or in milk. Some recipes will tell you to cook the whites for 3 minutes on each side. This is wrong. Cook them 1 minute maximum. Overcooking toughens the egg whites and you want them to remain fluffy and light. Cream Anglaise should be strained for a smooth texture and it will thicken slightly as it cools. You can flavour it with a vanilla pod or with pure vanilla extract or with real vanilla sugar. Sometimes I use a little from all of these for an intense vanilla flavour. The ratio of cream Anglaise is as follows. For every 5 egg yolks use 2 cups of milk and a 1/4 cup of sugar.

5 egg whites
1 Tbsp sugar
5 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp flour [optional]
2 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise
Instead of the vanilla bean you can use 2 Tbsp of real vanilla sugar or 2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

• In a large saucepan, bring water to boil.
• Turn the heat down to slow simmer.
• Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
• Beat in 1 Tbsp of sugar.
• With a wooden spoon drop 2-3 spoonfuls of beaten egg whites into the simmering water.
• In a few seconds the meringues will puff up, gently turn them over with the wooden spoon.
• Cook the meringues for a few seconds longer and then transfer them with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl.
• Beat the egg yolks and sugar for 3-4 minutes until very thick and creamy.
• Add 1 Tbsp of flour and whisk to combine. This step is optional.
• Add the milk and whisk to combine.
• Transfer yolk-milk mixture to a saucepan.
• Split the vanilla bean and add to the saucepan.
• Slowly heat the mixture and keep stirring with a wooden spoon
• You must NOT let the milk boil or the yolks will curdle. Let it come no higher than 175F or 80C. Dip the wooden spoon into the custard and run your finger along the back of the spoon. If the streak remains without the cream running down through the streak, it is ready.
• If you use vanilla extract or vanilla sugar, now is the time to add to the hot custard.
• Strain the hot custard through a fine sieve into a bowl.
• If you used vanilla bean scrape the seeds into the hot custard and stir.
• Pour the custard over the meringues.
• Serve hot or chilled.




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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. Happy cooking!

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