This all started a couple of weeks ago. Whitney made the most perfect chocolate souffle on MasterChef. My husband decided that he, too, needed a chocolate souffle in his life. The first time he mentioned it, I told him he was crazy. But he brought it up again and I thought, well, this is a good excuse to buy something new for my kitchen. That was about all the persuasion I needed. Off to Williams-Sonoma I went, where I picked up these lovely blue ramekins with some store credit I had from our wedding.
Then it was time to separate a whole bunch of egg whites from their yolks and whip everything into a frenzy. In a way, I feel as though I didn’t get the real challenge to making souffles, because I used an electric mixer. There is absolutely no way I would’ve pulled this off beating my eggs by hand, a la Julia Child. So, perhaps my chocolate souffles weren’t totally authentic, but I did manage to time them to come out of the oven just as we finished off our braised pork. That must count for something, right?
Between my frantic souffle whipping-up and trying to get dinner on the table, I took a moment to marvel at the way this whole process resembles a science experiment. It’s fascinating to me how much you can make an egg change just by beating it for long enough. And beat I did.
My darling KitchenAid Mixer was crucial for sure, but I also pulled out my old hand beaters to do the yolks, because you aren’t really supposed to whip the yolks and the whites in the same bowl. Well, unless you wash the bowl, but there wasn’t really time for that. Before you know it, the whites start to actually become, well, white. And you don’t even have to wear out your arm and curse your sweet husband for the day he ever heard of a chocolate souffle, let alone decided he needed to eat one. I mean, really, how do people do this by hand? I’m in absolute awe.
Anyway, before you know it, your mixer is whirring away and your whites start to look like this, which means that they have lots of little air bubbles that will ultimately cause your souffle to rise.
I’ve read this thing about the egg whites forming stiff peaks before, but I have never actually achieved it myself. They were so beautiful! Sadly, whipped egg whites are not the end game here. You have to fold them into the chocolate, spoon the mixture into the ramekins, and bake them ever so carefully. This part was a real mystery for me, because my oven doesn’t have an interior light, let alone a window that lets you peek inside. Unfortunately for my souffles, the oven temperature spiked while they were baking, so the edges got a little crispy and they didn’t rise quite as dramatically as they should. However, for a first attempt, I was quite pleased with the results.
Most importantly, they were totally worth the work that went into making them. Because wow. That light, airy, chocolate taste is simply wonderful.
Adapted from The Food Network
I didn’t change a whole lot about this recipe, but I did do a fair amount of reading about techniques before settling on it. I also cut it down from 6 souffles to three. Oh, and I sort of estimated the whole half an egg yolk thing.
- 3.5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for coating the ramekins
- 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 egg yolks
- 4 egg whites
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp warm water
- 1/4 c and 1 tbsp granulated sugar, plus extra for coating the ramekins
- 1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
- confectioner’s sugar for garnish
- Rub butter all over the interiors of 3 (6-ounce) ramekins and coat with granulated sugar. Place in the freezer.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler (or place a heat-proof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Be careful not to allow the bowl to touch the water). Stir occasionally until melted and smooth.
- While chocolate is melting, combine egg yolks with warm water and beat until frothy. If you have two mixers, use your hand mixer here. If not, be sure to thoroughly wash the bowl before beating the egg whites.
- Add 1 tbsp of sugar to egg yolks and continue beating until small ridges form (about 5 minutes).
- Remove melted chocolate from heat and stir in vanilla. Mix until smooth, then very gently fold in egg whites. Mix gently until completely combined.
- Remove ramekins from the freezer and set aside.
- Place egg whites and lemon juice in mixer bowl and beat on medium until frothy. Add the remaining 1/4 c of sugar and increase speed to high. Beat until whites hold a stiff (but not dry) peak.
- This last part needs to happen quickly to make sure the egg whites retain their texture. Fold about 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate and mix gently until chocolate begins to whiten. Fold in remaining egg whites until blended.
- Spoon souffle into prepared ramekins and place on a baking sheet. Make sure the tops of the souffles are level.
- Bake immediately until the souffle rises as much as 1 and 1/2 inches from the tops of the ramekins (or about 19 minutes if you can’t see what’s going on in your oven).
- Upon removing from the oven, dust souffles with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately. They will begin to fall within 1-2 minutes of being removed from the oven.
Let me know if you give this recipe a try. Mine weren’t perfect, but we still enjoyed eating them. Your worst case scenario is a dessert that looks ugly but tastes great.