This was a favourite dessert in both France and North America alike until recently. I have never made this but years ago was served this dessert at a friend's house. I didn't fully appreciate the effort until making it now. It is like eating clouds! I really enjoyed it.
Oeufs à la Neige from The Joy of Cooking
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 t vanilla
¼ t cream of tartar
¼ t salt
2/3 c sugar, preferably superfine
Beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Then add the vanilla, cream of tartar and salt. Continue to beat until soft peaks are formed. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat on high speed until the peaks are thick and glossy.
Line a baking sheet with a thin tea towel or two layers of paper towels. Pour 2” of water into a large skillet and heat to 180F (or until tiny bubbles form along the bottom of the pan). Adjust the heat to maintain this temperature. It must not simmer.
Using a 3 to 4 ounce ice cream scoop or a 1/3 to ½ cup measuring cup, scoop up a slightly heaping mound of meringue. Round the top of the mound with your fingertips to form an egg shape.
Drop the meringue into the skillet. If you are using a cup scrape the egg out with a rubber spatula. Preparing 5 to 8 meringues at a time (or as many as will fit in the skillet), poach the meringues for 2 minutes on each side, turning once with a slotted spoon.
When done they should feel firm and bouncy all around. If soft spots remain, flip the meringues onto their undercooked sides and poach a bit longer. Remove the meringues from the skillet with the slotted spoon, briefly hold them aloft to drain, and set each one on the lined baking sheet. Poach all the meringues in the same manner.
Prepare a custard sauce and pour it into a wide, deep glass dish or bowl, then float the meringues on the custard. For a classic oeufs à la neige, prepare caramel glaze. Cool it slightly before drizzling the hot caramel over the dessert by spoonfuls, waving the spoon to create a delicate filigree of threads.
Serve at once or refrigerate up to 12 hours.