Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sweet Soufflé

“A woman happily in love, she burns the soufflé. A woman unhappily in love, she forgets to turn on the oven.” - Baron St. Fontanel (Sabrina)

Soufflés often get the negative rapport of being too difficult to make at home… impressive to eat when dining out… but too much of a challenge for a home cook.

Fret not, friends. Soufflés are neither temperamental, nor require an enormous amount of “over-the-top talent.” Literally anyone can make a successful soufflé if taught the correct manner.

Oscar Wilde once wrote, “simple pleasures are the last healthy refuge in a complex world.” Soufflés are comprised of a few basic and “ordinary” ingredients: butter, sugar and eggs. Sweet soufflés will include fruits, chocolate, espresso, etc. More savory soufflés will incorporate herbs, spices, cheese, etc. The basic formula for a soufflé includes a flavored base (be it pastry cream/savory cream) and beaten egg whites that boost the base when cooked to impressive heights. Taking the ordinary… and making it extraordinary. That is the beauty of simplicity.

So how does one execute said impressive dish. A basic chocolate soufflé recipe:

7 oz chopped chocolate (dark/bittersweet/milk.. make the base according to what type of chocolate your palate enjoys the most)
4 Tbsp. butter
1 ½ tsp. vanilla – Madagascar vanilla bean paste, if possible… if not, extract
3 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp warm cream
½ c. sugar, plus 2 Tbsp.
8 large egg whites
½ tsp lemon juice
Confectioners’ sugar for decoration

First, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush soft butter on your molds, then coat with sugar. Pour the excess sugar out of molds and place molds in refrigerator.

In order to melt the chocolate and butter, a bain marie (double-boiler) will be used. Simply simmer warm water in a sauce pan (about an inch of water in height) and set a bowl atop the simmering water (careful not to touch the water to the bottom of the bowl). Place the chocolate in the bowl and gently stir – melting the chocolate. Be cautious when melting the chocolate – chocolate and water are enemies! Be sure not to get any water in the chocolate (it will not melt properly if water – even one drop – touches the chocolate). Remove from heat when melted and set aside.

Combine the egg yolks and warmed cream (about room temperature) in a mixing bowl. Beat until “frothy,” then gradually add 2 Tbsp sugar into the mixture. .. about 5 minutes. Gently fold the yolks into the melted chocolate and add the vanilla bean paste. Set aside.

Now for the egg whites. Place egg whites in a mixing bowl, then beat on high. Continue to beat until the whites turn into a frothy, textured whip. Slowly pour the sugar – small amounts at a time – into the whipped egg whites. Before fully whipped to stiff peaks (meaning, if you turn the bowl upside down, the egg whites will not move… they have been whipped to the correct state), add in the lemon juice. When whipped to stiff peaks, stop the mixer.

Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. The basic concept is that you are “sacrificing” the first 1/3 of egg whites by mixing them completely into the chocolate mixture. Why? Because you are slowly “introducing” the chocolate mixture to what it will fully incorporate in the next step. Once the 1/3 of egg whites and chocolate are fully incorporated, then gently fold the remaining 2/3 egg whites into the chocolate. Gently in order to retain as much air into the mixture as possible. The air is the factor which will allow your soufflé to rise to impressive heights when cooking.

When full incorporated, fill molds to about 75% capacity with a spoon, being careful with the delicate batter. Immediately bake the soufflés until the tops have risen and have lightly browned. IMPORTANT- DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN during the cooking process. If you open and close the oven multiple times, the soufflé will not rise properly!

When finished baking, remove from the oven and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately, as the soufflé will begin to “fall” quickly. A delicious, and I personally believe – essential – sauce for any sweet soufflé is crème anglaise. The crème anglaise truly helps to balance the sweet flavors, as well as moisten the entire soufflé.

I encourage each of you – at some point in your life – to try to make a soufflé! Practice makes perfect, but do not be intimidated with the basic ingredients. If I can do it… you can too.

Love y’all! ♥

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