Whenever I set a souffle on the dining room table, the room gets quiet, guests hold their breath, and for a brief moment there is complete silence. Secretly, this always amuses me, because there have been many things that I have completely annilated in the kitchen, but knock on wood, a souffle is not one of them. At least not yet…
Now yes, I will admit that once upon a time, anytime I saw a souffle recipe in a magazine or cookbook, I would quickly flip the page. I had absolutely no intention of making one in this lifetime and suffering through the humiliation of serving something that resembled a flat soggy pancake in a souffle dish. However, a few years ago, I discovered that souffles were very simple to make, using ingredients that I almost always have on hand. A basic souffle does not cost a fortune to make, require you to slave in the kitchen for hours, or disastrously explode without warning. Instead it can be the most inexpensive, yet most impressive desserts you have ever made.
If you have never made a souffle before, I encourage you to try it! They are always memorable, deeply satisfying, and your guests will rave about eating it for years to come.
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup of flour
1 cup of milk
4 egg yolks at room-temperature
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
5 egg whites at room temperature
pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
sifted confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Make a souffle collar by cutting a long sheet of parchment paper; long enough to wrap around the outside circumference of the souffle dish. Neatly fold this sheet in half lengthwise, so you will have a double think, semi-long, six inch wide strip of parchment. Fit the outside of the dish with the collar and secure with a piece of cooking string. Use a piece of tape to secure the top. Ultimately the collar should extend 2 inches above the rim of the souffle dish.
Butter the souffle dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter, sprinkle it with sugar, (coating all of the butter evenly) and knock out any of the excess.
In a bowl, combine the 1/3 cup of sugar, flour, and 1/4 a cup of the milk. Whisk until smooth.
In a heavy saucepan, bring the remaining 3/4 Cup milk to a simmer; stirring constantly.
Slowly pour the steaming milk into the flour mixture, whisking it in as you do so.
Return this mixture back into the saucepan and whisk constantly as you bring it back up to a gently simmer. As soon as it begins to bubble, lower the heat to low and whisk constantly for 2 minutes.
Temper the egg yolks, by spooning a little bit of the simmered mixture in to the eggs, whisking no more then a spoonful at a time. (Rushing this step along will cause the eggs to scramble.)
Using a silicone scraper, transfer this mixture to a bowl, whisk in the vanilla, and dot the top with the remaining 1 TBS of butter.
This recipe may be partially made ahead up till this point. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjust oven racks so that the souffe can be set on the lower middle rack with no racks above it to interfere with the way it will raise.
Using the whisk attachment and a mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy.
Add the cream of tartar and beat until the whites hold fairly stiff peaks.
1 tablespoon at a time, add the sugar to the egg whites until they hold perfect stiff peaks. (Be very careful at this point you do not want to tap or knock the bowl and burst any of the bubbles that were formed while whipping the egg whites. These bubbles are what will help the souffle rise.)
Gently stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the yolk mixture, blending well.
Very carefully fold the remaining egg whites into the mixture and spoon into the prepared souffle dish.
Very carefully, place souffle on the lower middle rack of the oven, carefully close oven door, and lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Souffle will need to bake for 30-35 with no major vibrations anywhere near the oven or it may fall prematurely.
The souffle is done when the top is puffed and golden.
Remove the collar carefully, dust the top of the souffle with confectioner’s sugar and serve IMMEDIATELY! You can eagerly wait for a souffle all day long, but it can never wait for you!
Grand Marnier Souffle
Reduce the amount of vanilla to 1 1/2 teaspoons, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of grated orange zest, and add 3-4 tablespoons of Grand Marnier to the base.
Add 1/2 cup of cocoa powder to finished. Be sure to still use the vanilla.
*If you still have questions concerning making a souffle collar, follow this link.