For the past several weeks I’ve had souffles on the brain. They just keep coming up in conversation. So when someone suggested souffle for dessert 2 nights ago, I had had enough. It was time. I recently bought “The Sweet Life” by Kate Zuckerman (The pastry chef from Chanterelle) and she devotes a whole chapter to souffles. So I picked out a chocolate one with a caramel base and jumped right in. First step: melt the chocolate down with some butter.
Then begin preparing my base by boiling up some caramel syrup.
I whipped the hot caramel syrup into some egg yolks until they were nice and fluffy.
And then made an Italian meringue. In an Italian meringue, you make a hot sugar syrup that you slowly pour into your egg whites as you whip them. This was where things went a little off for me. I don’t make souffles too often, but I do know that any time you make a meringue that will be folded into something else, it’s important not to over whip it. Once a meringue goes stiff there’s no turning back. I screwed up my timing on this one and definitely overworked my meringue.
Next I started assembling my souffle. I whipped together the caramel yolks with the melted chocolate.
Then I folded in my meringue. Definitely not my best work, but I got the meringue in without totally deflating it.
Then I poured the souffle mix into ramekins and let them chill in the fridge while I prepared a sauce.
Because really, you can’t have dessert souffle without creme anglaise… First I steeped my milk and cream with a vanilla bean.
Then cooked it with sugar and egg yolks until I had a nice custard…yum…I love custard…
Then it was time to bake those little ones. Important reminder when baking off souffles: just don’t open the oven. Leave them be. Pop them in, set your timer for 17 minutes and walk away. A successful souffle will add at least 50% to its height when baked, so I was feeling good about these guys!
Before we could devour them we cracked them open.
And filled them with that creme anglaise.
Total happiness. Enough to make you forget about healthcare reform. If only for a minute or 2.
CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE RECIPE (adapted from Kate Zuckerman):
3 1/2 oz butter
1 cup plus 5 tbsp sugar
7 1/2 oz dark chocolate
8 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp brewed espresso
1/4 tsp salt
- Melt 1 1/2 oz of butter and grease the souffle ramekins. Refrigerate and grease again, then coat with sugar. Put them back in the fridge.
- Place chocolate and 2 oz of butter in a bowl. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water to melt together. Once melted set aside.
- Put 5 egg yolks in a medium bowl. Discard the other 3 egg yolks.
- Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar & 3 tbsp water in a heavy pot. Stir to blend and heat on low to melt the sugar crystals. Once they are melted, increase heat to high and boil until water evaporates and sugar caramelizes. Turn off heat and carefully pour in 2 tbsp water. Stand back because it will sputter out. The caramel will boil for a bit. Once it stops, slowly stream it into the egg yolks as you whip them. Continue whipping until the yolks cool and double in volume, about 2 minutes. Whip in espresso and salt.
- Combine 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar and 3 tbsp water in a small saucepan over medium heat and attach a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, place the 8 egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on medium high speed. Once the whites foam up, add the cream of tartar. When the egg whites are completely foamy and begin to hold the lines of a whisk, turn up the heat under the sugar syrup. While that heats up, slowly pour in 2 tbsp sugar into the whites, 1 tsp at a time. Keep whipping until they are almost, but not quite fully whipped. At this point the sugar syrup should close to 248 degrees. Once it reaches, slowly stream it into the whipping whites. They should be shiny and satiny. Keep whipping until they cool off.
- Add the melted chocolate into the whipped yolks and whisk until smooth and shiny. Take 1/4 of the meringue and mix it into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold the meringue into this, careful not to deflate.
- Pour into ramekins and smooth out the top with a spatula. Place them in the fridge until you are ready to bake them.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 17 minutes, until they have risen by 50%.
- Eat up as soon as they come out of the oven.