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Hungarian Floating Island – Madártej

Hungarian floating island, Madártej

Julia Child’s favorite dessert, fluffy egg white clouds floating over a perfect crème anglaise (vanilla custard). Smooth and silky, it is the best once it is cooled and the cream settles and thickens properly.

This is a classic European dessert of French origin called “Oeufs a la neige” in French (eggs in the snow) or ” île flottante” (floating island), in Hungarian is called Madartej (Bird’s Milk). Nice and very popular among kids (and grown-up kids). It is easy to prepare, light and extremely delicious.

It is a good thing to know that it requires simple ingredients that are easily available at home – eggs, milk, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract or vanilla pod. This dessert is without flour.
If made right, the island should be firm and light and the milk should have a consistency of light cream and have a scent of vanilla.

How to make the perfect meringues?

First trick, do not overbeat the egg white, beat until stiff peaks form, you are done when that peak stays up once you pull the beater out of it.
When you place the egg white dumplings in the hot milk, do not overcrowd them, cook only 4 or maximum 5 at a time. The will puff up and will not have enough place if you place too many egy white clouds.

Do not boil the milk and make it too hot. If it happens, you overcook the egg whites, they will gave a light brown color, shrinks and be flat, not fluffy at all.

How to serve the Floating island dessert?

Serve chilled and beautiful serving bowls. A cold water bath is an easy way to cool down custard fast. Instead of chilling in the fridge for several hours, a cold water bath will get the custard cool to lukewarm in about 10 minutes. After that you can put it in the fridge.

When you serve, sprinkle the egg white clouds with lemon zest. Do not do it earlier because the zest colors the egg white and will not be pretty if it stays like that for hours.

Hungarian floating island, Madártej

Hungarian Floating Island - Madártej

Fluffy egg white clouds floating in vanilla custard. This traditional Hungarian dessert is really nice and very popular among kids (and grown-up kids). It is easy to prepare, light, and extremely delicious.
Total Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine French, Hungarian
Servings 4 people


  • Medium pot
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Electric whisk
  • Spoon
  • Knife
  • Smaller cutting board


  • 6 whole eggs
  • 1 litre whole milk
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod or 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 pinch salt
  • lemon zest when serving


  • Start heating milk in a big pot. Heat until hot but not boiling.
  • Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Do not let any egg yolk get into the white. (Yolks go in a medium bowl, whites go in a large bowl.)
  • In a bowl beat the egg whites with a little pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. When the milk is hot, using a spoon, put 4 dollops of egg-white foam in the milk (they will look like dumplings). Cook one side for about 2 minutes, then flip to the other side, cover the pot and cook for another 2 minutes. When the egg-white foam dollops have boiled, take them out of the milk and place them in a strainer or colander.
    Make sure that the milk is not too hot and not boiling. If it is too hot, you would overcook the egg white and it will shrink and be flat and thin once you take them out.
    Keep cooking the dumplings until you have egg white in your bowl.
  • Slice the top outer layer of the vanilla pod in half lengthwise. Once you have cut through the outer layer you can open the vanilla pod to reveal the many little black seeds inside. Use a spoon or knife to scrape out the seeds, put them in the hot milk.
  • Beat the egg yolks with sugar and vanilla extract until thick and thecolor is light yellow. Add the cornstarch. Pour some of the hot milk into the egg yolks, stir continuously. Now pour this mixture back to the rest of the milk, put back on the heat, do not stop stirring. Do not let it boil, this prevents the eggs from scrambling. Keep stirring until you get a creamy consistency.
  • Turn the heat off and keep strirring for another minute.
  • Let it cool down, por the content into nice serving bowls.
  • Then place the boiled egg white foam on surface of the cream. Sprinkle with lemon zest & enjoy!
Hungarian floating island, Madártej