Poached Meringue and Rhubarb baked with Orange Flower Water

Serves: 2-3
Cost: ~€1.80
Preparation time: ~25 minutes
Calories: ~250 per serving

Adapted from a recipe for “oeufs à la neige” by Gary Rhodes

May is a rather fun month because there are no fewer than three bank holidays here in France. Yesterday happened to be one such bank holiday and before I dive into the food I’m going to tell you about what we did. We must have been pretty tired on the Monday evening because all we did was order in a pretty vile pizza, watch some TV and then promptly fall asleep. Going to sleep this early did, as a result, mean that we awoke bright and early yesterday morning – but wait… how early is “bright and early”? Are you thinking 6 or 7? Well that would be a good time indeed, but no. 5? Nope, keep going… in fact, I woke up at about 3.30, at which point I had a slice of cold pizza (mmm!) and a cup of coffee and I pondered what we could possibly do, since my wife, too, was awake.

“How about driving to Montmartre and seeing the sun rise?” I suggested.

“Sounds good to me!” wifey replied.

After a bit of Google-checking to see when the sun was due to rise we set off. I can tell you – driving on the périphérique, the ring-road around Paris, is often slow and stressful with large tailbacks. Not the case at 5am where there were only a few cars to join me in my travels! 25 minutes after setting off, we’d arrived and parked up at the foot of the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur.

Basilique du Sacre Coeur

I have to admit – sun-rises in Paris frequently aren’t what one would hope for – especially on bad weather days. In this day’s case, we were in for overcast skies all day. When the weather is like this the light over the city changes from a cool blue to a warm grey as dawn breaks. It’s not the most exciting light, but equally, not without its charm as the sun rises to the east, visible over the roofs of countless offices, apartments and stations.

Dawn over Paris

Montmartre is a curious place – you can be there at 5.30 in the morning and it will be a very calm place. The only noises you’ll hear are birds and the occasional clatter as the wind blows over a plastic cup or can, left behind from the previous evening’s socialising (the steps in front of the basilique are hugely popular among youths and tourists who like to sit here until very late, looking out over Paris). Looking down at Paris it still seems very sleepy, and from the top of Montmartre you can’t really see anything that might be going on below.

Paris, before 6am

And then it happens – the official hour of sun-rise strikes, thousands of street lights ping off all over the city and all of a sudden it seems like everything got a whole load more noisier. The funicular railway starts up, delivering tourists from the bottom of the hill and all around is the sound of shutters being opened and trash cans being emptied. At this point we decide that we’ve had our time here. The lights are off and the greyness is setting in so it’s off to find a bakery and home before the traffic gets too terrible.

Paris after 6am

I hope you enjoyed getting a little glimpse of dawn in Paris – the photos were mostly taken facing south so you don’t get to see the sun coming up so much. In the photo above, the Eiffel Tower is actually to the right, just out of the shot. As always, you can download a full-size version of the photos on my downloads page if you want a copy for wallpaper purposes and so forth.

On to today’s recipe – did you know you can poach a meringue? I didn’t – I recently came into possession of a rather nice cookbook by Gary Rhodes – a well-known English chef. For anyone looking to find really inspirational British cuisine I strongly recommend his books. He made a delicious looking dish involving poached meringues, baked rhubarb and brioche. I wanted a rather more light dessert, and indeed – it was already filling enough just as I served it, so I omitted the brioche and added orange flower water as well to rhubarb while baking, for a delicate background flavour.

The rhubarb was, as always, very tart – offset perfectly with the sweet meringue. A very tasty dessert which can be customised a lot – different toppings, different fruits. I’m already planning my next version of this beauty – I hope you enjoy it yourselves!

Poached Meringue and Rhubarb baked with Orange Flower Water

[learn_more caption=”Video Recipe”]


Poached Meringue and Baked Rhubarb ingredients

For the Meringues

  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 90g Caster Sugar
  • 250ml  Milk
  • 250ml Water

For the Rhubarb

  • 3-4 Stalks of Rhubarb
  • 2 tbsps Caster Sugar
  • 2 tbsps Water
  • 2 tbsps Orange Flower Water
  • Icing Sugar, for dusting

You’ll also need

  • An Electric Whisk


  1. Start off by preheating the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl using your electric whisk until you achieve soft peaks. Whisk in the caster sugar for the meringues, a couple of spoons at a time, until you get a firm, thick consistency.
    Whisking the egg whites
  2. Place the milk and water in a pan together on the stove. Bring the liquid to a slow simmer, and  then lower the heat so the liquid stays just below simmering. Using two dessert spoons, form rough oval shapes from the whisked egg whites before pushing the meringue off the spoon, into the hot liquid. Allow to poach for ~6 minutes, before turning over in the liquid and poaching the other side, again for about 6 minutes. Only cook about 5 or 6 meringues at a time to avoid crowding the pan. The ingredients listed will make ~ 10-12 meringues, depending on size.
    Scooping up the egg whites

    Poaching the meringues
  3. While the meringues are poaching, wash and trim the rhubarb. Peel it if the skin is very tough, and cut each stalk into about 3 or 4 pieces. Keep the pieces to a roughly equal length. Transfer the rhubarb to a roasting dish and pour over the water and orange flower water. Finally, sprinkle on the sugar and place into the preheated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the rhubarb is very tender but still has its structure.
    Baking the rhubarb
  4. Arrange the rhubarb on a plate and top with 3 or 4 poached meringues per person. Dust with icing sugar and serve with a light custard or cream if desired, and enjoy! Save the liquid from the pan and use it to make a light custard if desired.
    Poached Meringues and Baked Rhubarb

    Poached Meringues on Baked Rhubarb


  1. says

    What a gorgeous dessert! Poached meringue looks very interesting! Well I should be focusing on your recipe, but your beautiful landscape photography took my breath away. I told you 100 times before but your photography looks amazing. I love that street lights are shining – so beautiful!!! May I ask what kind of lens are you using?

    • says

      Thanks so much Nami :) It’s quite a magical place before all the hordes of visitors arrive :)

      I’m just using the standard Canon 18-55mm kit lens which came with the camera. I bought a 50mm which I use for my food but this one I never bothered to upgrade. I have a UV and polarising filter on the front, for what it’s worth. The light effect is caused by the aperture – it’s ~f13 (I had my tripod :D). I really like the effect it causes. I have another photo from outside the Louvre museum where the aperture was even smaller I think… ~f16, here.

      Have a wonderful day :)

      • says

        Thanks for letting me know about the lens! You have skills… I try clicking pictures but my photos (as well as my husband’s) never come out like yours! I guess practice practice practice then… Thank you, and good night! :-)

        • says

          Ha, nonsense – you’re too kind! You take wonderful photos… I just saw some from your trip to Japan, but I’m humbled that you enjoy mine so much, especially since you are like the queen of food photos!

  2. says

    Awww … how romantic, watching the sunrise in a parked car. Lovely pictures, Charles. So nice and peaceful …. until about 8am, I suppose 😀
    Poached meringue? I’ve vaguely heard of it but never eaten one. No crunch, I presume? I’m curious about the texture.

    • says

      Hi Ping, it’s a very peaceful place at that time of the morning – I’ve been there only three times at very early in the morning. It’s a lovely experience! Poached meringue is very delicate – it’s like a slightly solid mousse!

  3. says

    I love this Charles. I love the way you plated it and I love the poached meringues. And I can’t believe that on a public holiday you are up at 3.30am. Do you have a job in breakfast TV and so are conditioned to waking at that hour? I love the images of Paris – it’s a city I absolutely must visit and have already, heard so much about xx

    • says

      Hi Charlie – haha, I’m certainly not conditioned to waking up at that hour! 0730 is my usual wake-up time on work mornings, and even that is, in my opinion, far too early!

      So glad you enjoyed the photos of Paris! :)

  4. Eva says

    What amazing photos of Paris! I’m hoping to do just that in the fall! One of my flavourite spots is Montmartre! We’re trying to rent an apartment in this area instead of staying in a hotel. Thank you for the lovely visit.
    Isn’t île flottante, or à la neige poached too? The Hungarians make Madártej (birds milk) which is also poached meringue. I’ve tried it once and did not succeed too well! Yours look wonderful! It does taste like a wonderful light dessert; my mom used to make a fantastic version.

    • says

      Hi Eva – indeed, île flottante and oeufs à la neige are poached too. It was a while since I had île flottante actually… Such a fun dish – hm, maybe I should make one sometime soon! :)

      I’ll look up Madártej – if it’s anything at all like this poached meringue I’m sure it’s absolutely delicious!

  5. says

    First of all Big Man has asked me to pass on his thanks to you for the wonderful photos – he loved Paris and especially Montmarte and Sacre Coeur so enjoyed the photos! When I was in my early twenties, Gary Rhodes was a chef at The Greenhouse in London and I ate a very similar dessert to this there (yes, it made such an impression on me I rememebr it). Of course, I then started to buy his books as he wrote them and did cook this (or something like it) years ago. Thanks for reminding me what a beautiful dessert it is…and now I need to revisit my Gary Rhodes cookery books :)

    • says

      Hi Chica, I’m so glad Big Man enjoyed the photos :)

      I bet the dessert you had was incredible – I find his cookery book I have absolutely wonderful, and really inspirational too… He has some fantastic stuff!

  6. says

    Sunrise must be just the right time to see Montmartre! 3:30 is a bit early to rise though. I don’t see rhubarb often here, but I like it roasted.

    • says

      Hi Sharyn, yeah – if you can make it for sunrise which will be ~ 5.30 in a month or so then that’s a much better time!

  7. says

    This dessert not only sounds good, but it looks just beautiful! I would be so impressed if I was served a dessert like this in a restaurant – let alone a home. I’ve never eaten rhubarb straight up like that, I bet it’s fantastic though. I do love anything sour.

    Your pictures of Paris are phenomenal. I just love it. They looks so romantic and dreamy. I’m not often up at that hour (Well, okay, I’m usually up tucking someone back in bed at that hour…), but the times I have been I too have enjoyed getting out before the rest of the world is awake and watching things come to life. There’s something magical about those hours. And I just love Montmartre. I still have my painting I bought while I was there. :)

    • says

      Hi Kristy – rhubarb is really under-appreciated I think. I saw something recently which was a savoury dish with rhubarb as an accompaniment… something like roast pork with rhubarb or something… delicious I’m sure!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos – you’re right, there’s something magical about the world in general when you stare out at it, knowing that 99% of the population is fast asleep and you feel like, just for a moment, the whole city is yours!

      Thanks so much for your kind comment :)

  8. says

    Your sunrise photos are so beautiful, Charles! What a perfectly spontaneous way to begin your morning. I had no idea you could poach meringues – amazing! Lovely presentation.

    • says

      Thanks Laura – it was indeed spontaneous. One of life’s wonderful little surprises, hehe :)

      Poached meringues are great, and so fun to use in cooking – you should give them a try!

  9. says

    Those opening shots of and from Montmartre with the street lamps shining are enchanting, overcast or no! And enchanting is the word I might use for your dessert as well. I’ll confess I’ve never been tempted by rhubarb, or making meringues…until now! I was going to ask the same question as Eva, about île flottante being made with a poached meringue as well.

    • says

      Hi Betsy, thanks so much – I hope you’re able to give it a try! It is indeed the same technique used to create Ile Flottante as well. I think Ile flottante might have something added to make it more firm… not entirely sure… need to look it up again

  10. says

    How beautiful your photos Charles, you know you’ve got us all wishing we were there. Thanks so much though for sharing these I love when post your photos. I’ve never seen poached meringue and believe it or not I’ve never eaten rhubarb. I need to rememdy that. Have a wonderful day.

    • says

      Hi Suzi – thank you so much for your kind comment – I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos! I can’t believe you’ve never eaten rhubarb! You have to give it a try!! Baked in a pie with strawberries… mmmmm. My mother used to have very successful rhubarb plants in her garden many years ago… not sure what happened to those in the end.

  11. says

    Charles … colour me even MORE impressed than usual! Floating islands. You are a man of many talents as I’m sure your wife appreciates. :)

    • says

      Thanks A_Boleyn 😀 I think my wife does indeed appreciate my hobby… though it never hurts to be reminded of that. Maybe if she reads this then she’ll decide to show her appreciate by buying me a new copper pan…. {cough}{hint}

      • A_Boleyn says

        I hope she DOES buy you a new copper pot. After all a great chef needs the proper tools to prepare their masterpieces. (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

        • The Wife says

          At 250 euros a pot, this particular cheapskate need to wooed with more than just poached meringues… 😉

  12. says

    Charles–you’re killin’ me with all of these fabulous trips and gorgeous photos! I want your life (& to live in your city)!! What a stunning sunrise. I honestly can’t stop staring at the photos…might need to make one my work desktop photo. 😉 Anyways, on to the food, this dessert sounds so gourmet and delicious. Want want want.

    • says

      Aw, thanks so much Caroline :) I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos and the dessert too – hope you have a chance to make it some time, and of course, you’re welcome to visit any time!

  13. says

    Poaching a meringue is like making the egg whites for Ile flotante, isn’t that right?

    As long as there is orange blossom water, I’m sure it will be nice and refreshing! The colours in this dessert look splendid. It actually looks so “romantic”.

    • says

      Hi Nada – right, exactly. They’re very similar to Ile Flottante :) The orange flower water gave a beautiful background flavour to the rhubarb!

  14. says

    And here I thought I would never see a Paris sunrise! Your pictures and narrative were like living the experience. Because I live in a place of lots and lots of sunshine, I find gray, overcast at sunrise absolutely gorgeous.
    Rhubarb is such a unique and delicious vegetables with lots and lots of flexibility. I’ve never had it served this way. It looks delicious and definitely something that I would love! What a lovely little dessert!

    • says

      Hi MJ – I’m glad I could deliver on the photos, and so happy you enjoyed taking a look!

      Rhubarb is very unique, isn’t it – there’s nothing really like it. I love the flavour a lot. There’s so many ways to serve it. My colleague once made rhubarb and strawberry chutney which was delicious!

  15. says

    Hi, Charles. This dessert looks extraordinary! You probably know how much I love tart desserts, so frankly I would order your dessert if I saw it in a restaurant. Apart from the aesthetic and tart side, it also looks light and quite guilt-free. I have never made île flottante (I mean of course the poached meringue part) because it seems so complicated and tricky and requiring discipline and dexterity I don’t have, but I have always enjoyed it. I will try your recipe when I feel brave enough.
    I cannot believe you woke up at 3 am and didn’t go back to sleep! I think I will never see a sunrise because I will never wake up on time… Unless I spend the whole night partying (which I no longer do for years). The photos are beautiful!

    • says

      Hi Sissi – Ile Flottante is next on my list of desserts I want to try actually. I had a very bad one in a restaurant once. I know that I can make a much more delicious version! It’s generally not hard at all so I hope you’ll give it a try! :)

      You know, I tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t at all… was too wide awake. I like to do this sometimes – when I feel so tired, just falling asleep when you’re tired in the evening, even if it’s 7pm or 8pm and then just having a full, wonderful night of sleep! Glad you enjoyed the photos – thank you for your kind comment :)

      • A_Boleyn says

        I’m curious as to what differentiates the poached meringues you made from ‘floating islands’ (I’m not even going to attempt the french term) as I just assumed that’s what they were. :)

        • says

          Hi A_Boleyn, I found this info:
          “There is some confusion about the name. In French cuisine, the terms œufs à la neige (“eggs in snow”) and île flottante (floating island) are sometimes used interchangeably; the latter is the source of the English name. The difference between the two dishes is that île flottante sometimes contains islands made of “alternate layers of alcohol-soaked dessert biscuits and jam.”” Some recipes I found for ile flottante even baked the meringue instead of poaching it (weird…) so I think it’s one of these things where the borders of definition have blended over time!

  16. says

    You know how I am about meringues ): BUT. that rhubarb baked with orange flower water is more than enough to make me ignore the fact that there’s meringues in this dessert!

    I’ve been wanting to sleep earlier and wake earlier because it’s much healthier and I get more things done in the day, but you are mad, I cannot even imagine waking up THAT early, you must have turned in really really early! that said, I’m glad you got some gorgeous shots!

    • says

      Hi Shuhan – actually in the end I ended up going to bed only around… 11pm I think. Not that early. Sometimes I just don’t really tired! Was great to experience the morning though. So glad you enjoyed the photos, and hope you decide to try the rhubarb with orange flower water sometime!

  17. says

    Hi Charles, Paris looks magical in your photos. Having visited Montmartre not too long ago, it’s almost hard to believe it can be so peaceful as oppose to the usual chaos… I think next time I’ll be staying in Montmartre, I’ll go running at 5.30 to see it :) Now, on the food, the presentation of this lovely meringue looks like something you’d get in a fancy restaurant, really pretty :)

    • says

      Thanks Gourmantine – It’s always so sad though because the steps are just covered in trash every evening. Cups, cans and broken bottles… really ruins the atmosphere to some extent :(

    • says

      Hi GD – I would make a guess and say Brittany or Normandy. A lot of good farm produce comes from this region, although I’m not well up on the specific region for something like rhubarb alas.

  18. says

    wow such beautiful photos – thanks for sharing. Makes me feel like hopping on the Eurostar to Paris. I never knew you could poach meringues – how interesting. Your dessert looks delicious too! Never been a huge fan of rhubarb but you may just convince me with this dessert :)

    • says

      Thanks BA. I think rhubarb is a required taste. I don’t think I could eat it all the time, but the flavour is very unique and it’s delicious from time to time! Glad you enjoyed the photos!

  19. says

    The poached meringue looks awesome…but the photography is ‘stunning’..Love the landscape at night with the lights. But more than that you’ve taken it to another level with the dessert photos…Wow !!

  20. says

    3:30 am?!! Gracious, you MUST be younger than me… haha, we already knew that! :). Well, to see the sun rise over Montmartre, I might be persuaded too. Great photos Charles and they bring back very fond memories of Montmartre…As far as I’m concerned, Paris is breathtaking in any light.

    Your dessert? Simply Exquisite. Ex.Qui.Site!! The last photo should be used for the cover of your first cookbook Charles – it is one of your prettiest. I’m talking painfully beautiful.

    • says

      Thanks Kelly – I did try to fall asleep again, but it just wasn’t happening… one of those mornings when you just don’t feel tired at all, and believe me – falling asleep after I’m supposed to be getting up in the morning is normally NO problem for me! :)

      Thanks for your incredibly kind comment – that’s quite the compliment – I’m so happy you like the photo!

  21. says

    Hi Charles, Thank you for the tour, it’s lovely. Paris is beautiful at any time of the year… Rhubarb is in season and I just look at those delicious desserts dreaming of one. I was told that rhubarb doesn’t grow in this parts of the country, too hot for it. I can only “eat” rhubarb desserts with my eyes (Sigh)… I like what you made, I don’t think I’ve tried poached meringue before.

    • says

      Hi Marina – Paris is a beautiful city… it can be so busy sometimes though – for that reason some parts really are so much better before the world has woken up!

      It’s too bad you can’t get fresh rhubarb… I suppose you can maybe find it frozen or canned, but it’s not going to have the same qualities as the wonderful fresh stuff!

  22. says

    Charles, what beautiful photos of Paris–AND the dessert! I don’t often make meringues, and I’ve never made poached meringues. But this looks lovely. I’d probably whip up a bit of custard sauce–love a good English custard sauce on nearly anything.

    • says

      Thanks so much Jean – I agree… custard would be perfect. Good use for the leftover milk used for poaching the meringues! :)

  23. says

    @ The Wife who said: ‘At 250 euros a pot, this particular cheapskate need to wooed with more than just poached meringues…’ Perhaps you could request other …non-cooking services…to convince you cause those ARE some pretty pricey pots. :)

    Best of luck, Charles.

    • says

      I already do a mean job with the vacuum cleaner! That should count for something! Not to mention the elbow-grease I put into scrubbing my burnt offerings away from the stove 😀

  24. says

    Gorgeous photos of Paris, I particularly like the first photo.
    Love your presentation. Rhubarbs are in season now I should give this dish a try.

    • says

      Thanks Norma – I hope you enjoy it if you try it! I’m glad you liked the photos… if you look carefully in the first pic you can see my little car parked up 😀

  25. says

    It takes an adventurous spirit to hop in the car at that time of day to see the sunrise. My hat goes off to both of you, as not everyone takes advantage of these moments. And hey, we all got to enjoy the fruits of your labour (both at Montmartre and in the kitchen) with these great photos that make us feel as though we were there!

    • says

      Thanks Barb – you know, it’s true – I think it’s important to take advantage of such moments. Spontaneity makes life fun! :) So glad you enjoyed the photos :)

  26. says

    Charles, Now I am getting really excited after seeing your pictures of Paris. I will be there this upcoming week. However your last picture of the poached meringue rhubarb is just gorgeous- should be on the front of a cook book I think. Take Care, BAM

    • says

      Hi Bam, thanks for your kind comment – I hope you have a wonderful time in Paris. Bear in mind that this Thursday the 17th is a bank holiday. Some places in Paris might be closed or be closing earlier as a result. Public transport should be largely unaffected, though maybe running a bit less frequently! :)

    • says

      Why, thank you Melissa! I’m blushing! Glad you like the look of it – can you get fresh rhubarb where you are? I wouldn’t eat it every day but it’s a very special flavour – delicious every now and again!

  27. says

    Hi Charles,
    What a gorgeous dessert! I love the poached meringue. I had no idea that meringue could be poached. The photographs of Paris look stunning!!! Hopefully one day I shall visit France.

    • says

      Thanks Asmita – it’s a very tasty way of preparing egg-whites… really nice texture too! I hope you get to visit Paris too sometime! Come in spring-time, it’s really most pretty then!

  28. says

    Charles, you are such a romantic to think of your lovely sunrise trip. I wake up at 3 AM several times a week but don’t do anything that is near as exciting…although I also don’t live on the outskirts of Paris either. And your dessert is as lovely as can be. I love poached meringue by what ever name people care to call it.

    • says

      Thanks Karen – I think it’s nice to do spontaneous things sometimes. Sure, if I’d really tried, I could have lain there for another sleepless hour or so before probably, finally drifting off again but doing this…. that’s the way to live :) It’s so strange, seeing the city with so few people about.

  29. says

    What a gorgeous sunrise! As a late-riser, I probably would have slept through the whole thing! I had no idea you could poach meringue – I can’t wait to try it though. I’m curious whether or not it changes the texture?

    • says

      Thanks Jen – I gotta say, numerous have been the “mornings” where I’ve woken up at 11pm, so this was a real experience for me too 😀

      For the meringues – it changes the texture a lot – they’re not at all like oven-baked versions :)

  30. says

    I just love the fact that you thought of watching the sun come up
    Your landscape pictures are amazing Charles and so are the food pictures
    I have never heard of poached meringue and now I am curious.

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