An easy elegant French custard dessert: Oeufs a la Neige or Eggs in the Snow

Aug 18, 2008 at 4:53 p.m. ET

Your mouth will water as you slip your spoon into the fluffy, tender dollop of meringue floating in a warm milk custard sauce. Your desert desire will delight when the subtly decadent combination fills your mouth and sweetens your palate. Oeufs a la Neige - or Eggs in the Snow - is an elegant, yet so simple, French custard dessert that will impress the guests at your next dinner party.

Oeufs a la Neige

French custard dessert recipes

Inspired by the September 2008 issue of Gourmet, this easy elegant dessert has many variations. For Gourmet's Ginger Cardamom Oeufs a la Neige, pick up the magazine. For a few decadent variations, try the following renditions, then create a few of your own.

Warmly-spiced Eggs in the Snow

Serves 4

Warm in flavor, this custardy dessert will make your guests smile with delight.

3 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 cups whole milk
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

1. Line bottom of a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Separate 2 eggs and put yolks in a large bowl and whites in another large bowl. Add whole egg to yolks and set aside.

3. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt using an electric hand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Add 1/2 cup sugar in a slow stream, beating at medium-high speed until whites hold stiff, glossy peaks.

4. In a wide, heavy 4-quart pot over medium heat, bring milk, cinnamon, cloves and allspice to a low simmer. Drop 4 large dollops of beaten egg whites into the milk and poach, turning once, for 4 minutes. Lower heat if milk rises above a bare simmer.

5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meringues to the lined baking sheet (reserve the milk).

6. Whisk remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, cornstarch and salt into egg yolk mixture. Add hot milk from the pan to the egg yolk mixture in a very slow stream, whisking until incorporated. Pour back into the pot.

7. Place pot on stove over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until thickened and an instant-read thermometer reads 170 degrees F. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Stir in vanilla extract.

8. Set bowl in a larger bowl of ice water to quick chill custard – stir custard occasionally allowing it to cool for 20 minutes.

9. Ladle custard into 4 dessert bowls and set a meringue in each. Sprinkle with nuts and serve.


Though French in origin, Eggs in the Snow can be made to suit your own dessert fancy. Here are variations based on the above recipe.

Chai Eggs in the Snow: Reduce cinnamon to 1/2 teaspoon and add 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Substitute pistachios for pecans. (Try substituting Chai Silk Nog for the whole milk for an ultra chai treat.)

Tropical Eggs in the Snow: Omit spices and pecans. Add 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and add 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract. Sprinkle with toasted shredded coconut and finely minced crystallized ginger.

Amaretto Eggs in the Snow: Omit spices and pecans. Add 2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur to the milk mixture while simmering. Add 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract. Sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds.

Chocolate Eggs in the Snow: Substitute chocolate milk for the whole milk. Substitute toasted walnuts for pecans and sprinkle with shaved dark chocolate.

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