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Almond Floating Islands with Custard Sauce

['1 1/2 cups milk', '2 teaspoons cornstarch', '1/3 cup sugar', '3 egg yolks from large eggs', '1/2 cup cold heavy cream', '1 teaspoon vanilla extract', '3 tablespoons dark rum', '1/2 sugar', '5 tablespoons water', '2 tablespoons unsalted butter', '6 egg whites from large eggs', '1/2 cup sugar', '1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds, chopped coarse', 'Toasted sliced almonds']

Put the milk, cornstarch, and sugar in saucepan, and stir occasionally as you heat it. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a bowl. When the milk comes to a strong boil, pour it all at once into the yolks while beating continuously with a whisk. The quantity of boiling milk as compared with the quantity of egg yolk is such that the egg yolk will be cooked by the hot milk and not require further cooking. Strain the custard immediately through a fine strainer into a bowl, and stir in the cold cream. When lukewarm, add the vanilla and rum. Set aside until serving time.
Put the sugar in a saucepan with 3 tablespoons of the water, and stir just enough to moisten the sugar. Place over medium heat, bring to a boil, and cook until the mixture turns caramel-colored (10 to 12 minutes). When caramelized, remove from the stove, add the butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons of water, and stir until well mixed. Divide the caramel among eight individual molds with a capacity of 1 to 1 1/2 cups each. Let the caramel cool, then butter lightly around the sides of the molds.
Beat the egg whites until very firm. Sprinkle the sugar quickly on top while beating at high speed with the whisk, and continue beating for another 10 seconds. Fold in the chopped almonds.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spoon the meringue into a pastry bag without a tip, and squeeze it into the caramelized molds. Tap the molds on a potholder set on the table, so there are no air bubbles in the center of the meringue. Arrange the molds in a roasting pan surrounded by lukewarm tap water. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until well set in the center and puffy. Remove from the water, and let cool.
When cool, the individual desserts can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

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