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Chocolate Souffle

September 2, 2010

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We are BIG fans of chocolate souffle in this household.

Anything chocolate, really.  But souffle is something special and I’ll tell you why…

It is intensely rich.  Ain’t no gettin’ around that.  It puffs up and develops a crisp sugary crust, while maintaining a dense gooey center.  It goes perfectly with a scoop of ice cream.  It’s the ultimate indulgence, at least for us.

But this is the first time I’ve actually attempted making it.  Souffle is definitely a restaurant-splurge most of the time… because let’s face it, it’s intimidating!  But maybe after a little tutorial, you’ll be interested in getting adventurous in the kitchen some night and trying out this special recipe.

This dessert was a special treat for my husband, and he is a minimalist when it comes to his chocolate.  He doesn’t like extra flavors blocking the chocolate and he doesn’t like decorations impeding his progress (so I find this dessert decidedly UN-decorative, personally.)  Feel free to make additions.  Fresh strawberries, or a nice raspberry sauce, or a few mint leaves for garnish.  Go to town!

I adapted this recipe from Tyler Florence on foodnetwork.com.  It will make four or five personal servings.  Gather the following, if you please:

~3/4 C. whole milk     ~4 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate     ~1 tsp. vanilla     ~1/8 C. flour                ~1/8 C. sugar     ~3 eggs     ~a pinch of salt     ~unsalted butter     ~individual-size ramekins

Also… (not pictured above)

~1 T. strong coffee OR hazelnut liqueur

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We shall start by prepping the ramekins for the baking process.  First, smear them generously with butter…

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Then sprinkle sugar into each ramekin and tap it around to coat the bottom and sides.  This crisps up the outer edges of the souffle.

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Store these in the freezer until you need them.  (You can even prep them like this the night before!)

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Stupendous.   Go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 375.

The next thing we will do is create a Pastry Cream Base.  Doesn’t that sound fancy?  It’s not hard but it requires your full attention.  I don’t recommend trying to photograph the process.  :)

First, separate the eggwhites from the eggyolks into two separate bowls (medium size should do just fine.)

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Set the whites aside… we’ll deal with them later.

Focus on the yolks for now.

Whisk them together with the flour…

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and the sugar…

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like so…

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Whisk until the mixture is smooth.

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Now, grab a saucepan or sautee pan and head over to the stove and heat up the whole milk.  Don’t boil… just watch for steam and bubbles along the sides.  Kapeesh?

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When you start to notice the aforementioned steam and bubbles… remove the milk from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

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Now, the next few steps are somewhat complicated.

But you can totally handle them!

Just wanted you to go into it forewarned.

Take the saucepan of milk over to your eggyolk mixture.  You’re about to combine the milk and the eggyolks.  But you can’t just dump it in there!  You have to temper the eggyolks.   If you don’t temper, you run the risk of the eggs scrambling.

Tempering is super easy!

Spoon small amounts of the hot milk into the eggyolks, whisking briskly as you add.

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Once you’ve whisked six or seven spoonfulls of milk into the eggs (and have sufficiently raised the eggs’ temperature in so doing) you can go ahead and dump the egg mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the milk!

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Just keep whisking!  You now have a Pastry Cream (or custard) base.  And trust me, it smells pretty amazing.

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Carry it back to the stove.  And stand there stirring it constantly over Medium heat til its very thick.

(Mine was thin thin thin for about 6 minutes, and then it transformed to thick in like two seconds.  I just kept stirring to keep it from burning or lumping up.)

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Here’s what to look for after 6-8 minutes… thick yummy custard coating the back of the spoon.  This means its ready!

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Remove the pastry cream from the heat and stir it a little longer to cool it down.  Then turn your attention to the chocolate.

Combine it with the coffee or liqueur you’ve chosen and melt it in 10 second increments in the microwave.

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Chocolate likes to burn in the microwave so you have to preempt its vicious schemes.  Stir it in between each stint in the microwave.  It’ll melt a lot just in the stirring process.

Here’s the chocolate after the first 15 seconds…

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And then after another 15 seconds.

Warning:  This chocolate may not look melted, but if it gets to this chunky-looking point, DON’T cook it longer… it will burn.  At this stage it’s still usable.  I think the coffee affected its texture.

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Now this needs to be whisked into the pastry cream.  It’ll take a little muscle since its so thick… but pretty soon you’ll have smooth delicious chocolate custard.

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Perfect.  This can now be set aside for awhile as we turn our attention to the eggwhites.

Whip out your electric mixer and start beating those eggwhites.

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Once they’ve frothed up a bit, add a pinch of salt and continue to whip them until they form stiff peaks.

See the peaks?

Time to fold these into the chocolate mixture.

Transfer about 1/3 of the eggwhites into the chocolate batter and give it a good mix.  We’re equalizing the two textures a bit here.

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With the remaining eggwhites… gently fold them into the batter with a spatula or wooden spoon.  Try not to deflate them, but don’t leave any huge blobs either.

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See how there are blobs here?  Try and eliminate them gently.

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Place the ramekins you’ve prepped ahead of time into an appropriately sized glass baking dish.  Pour water into the dish to create a water bath!

Fancy, eh?

Halfway up the sides of the dishes should be great!

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Fill each little dish 3/4 full with the decadent custard.  MMmmmmm.  Resist eating it if you can… since it contains raw eggs.  I’m not freaked out by them, but then, I’ve never had salmonella so I’m kinda ignorant.

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Now you can throw them into the oven and tidy up your kitchen!  They will take 19 or 20 minutes, no more.  And if you must peek, use the light!  Not the door.

They’re riiiiiissiiiiiiing!!!

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Side Note:  I had extra batter and I had only prepared three ramekins SO as I said before, plan on this serving four or five and don’t follow my lead in making only three.

Here we have the delicious little beauties after 20 minutes in the oven.  They are perfect.

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It’s perfectly delicious and beautiful to serve them like this… in the ramekins.  I had the YaYa’s chocolate souffle on my brain and I wanted mine to look like theirs so I turned it out of the dishes.  (It still didn’t look like theirs, but oh well.)

First try flopped a little.

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Second try held its shape beautifully.

My husband chose this one as his… so I will vouch for the first one myself.  It tasted equally to-die-for.

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And you simply must add ice cream.  The hot & cold, chocolate & vanilla combo just puts it over the top!

My minimalist husband disagrees.

So do whatever you want.

But the ice cream way is better.

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Enjoy this treat in moderation (or not) for a special occasion (or not.)  It’s mostly chocolate anyway, which is good for your heart!

Plus, its just. so. gooood.

I ate two.

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