Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Secrets to Soufflés

I always imagined soufflés to be very difficult and shied away from trying to make one. Last year, convinced this was a test of a real cook, I finally tried and triumphed! So, I thought I might share my soufflé secrets – the biggest of which is that it is not as hard as it looks!  I prefer making soufflés in individual ramekins instead of a larger dish. I find it easier to control and more impressive at the table. But if you want one big one, follow the recipes and add 8-12 minutes in baking time.  
You may prep your soufflés hours in advance and leave them covered in the fridge on the metal baking pan to be used for baking. This way they are quickly and easily transported from fridge to oven and from oven to table. When you’re ready to bake put it straight in the pre-heated oven.
Eggs must be at room temperature and not “farm fresh” which will not hold air as well as those that are at least a week old.
Use a very clean glass or metal bowl. (Traces of grease will stop the egg whites from rising).
Be certain your mixture is cooled to room temperature before folding into the egg whites.  Always fold one cup of your whites into your mixture first to loosen it up, before folding in the rest of the whites.
Many recipes suggest adding a collar to your soufflé. Instead, I fill my soufflé dishes to half an inch below the brim giving it space to fluff up.
Do not use convection option on your oven. Your soufflé will start out looking great, but then will deflate after a few minutes. Do not open the oven for the first 15 minutes of baking time and when you be quick about it and shut the door softly.
To test for doneness, insert a skewer or knife into the center of one and make sure it comes out clean, with no wet batter clinging on.

The Cheese Soufflé (serves 4)

You will need four 16 oz oven-safe ramekins and a mixer
½ cup butter
1½ cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup flour
8 extra large egg yolks
10 extra large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup fine grated parmesan cheese
2 cups milk         
1/2 teaspoon paprika    
dash cayenne
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and position rack in lower third of oven.  Generously butter soufflé dishes and dust with parmesan cheese on sides and bottom.  Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour, salt, cayenne, paprika, stirring well. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly, cook until thick. Add the cheese and stir until melted and very smooth. Remove from heat. Beat the egg yolk with a whisk until light. Gradually pour into cheese mixture and stir until well mixed. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until very stiff, but not dry. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Fold about 1 cup of egg whites into the cheese mixture. Using a wide rubber spatula, very slowly, in a gentle stream pour the mixture into the egg whites. Gently fold the two together-going deep to make sure of even distribution. Pour into ramekins.  Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake about 15-20 minutes longer. When it is risen and all golden brown it is ready. Serve immediately!


The Chocolate Soufflé  serves 4
You will need four 8-10oz ramekins, one double boiler, one mixer
7 ounces finely chopped semisweet chocolate 
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus for preparing the molds
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons warm water
½ cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
8 large egg whites, room temperature
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Confectioners' sugar for garnish

Brush four (8-10 ounce) ramekins with soft butter, then coat with sugar. Put the prepared ramekins in the freezer. Set an oven rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 450F degrees. Fill bottom of double boiler with one inch of water and bring to a very slow simmer. Melt chocolate and butter in the top pan over, but not touching, the water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Set aside. Combine egg yolks and warm water in a large metal or glass bowl and beat until frothy.  Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar, and continue beating until ribbons form, about 5 minutes. Very lightly fold the yolks into the chocolate mixture. Allow to cool to room temperature. Remove prepared ramekins from freezer. Put the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer and add the lemon juice. Beat on medium until frothy; then gradually add the remaining ½ cup of sugar and increase speed to high. Beat until the whites hold a stiff but not dry peak.
Working quickly, fold about one third of the egg whites into the chocolate to lighten; then fold in remaining whites until blended. Gently ladle the soufflé mixture into the ramekins, and place on a baking sheet. Immediately bake until the soufflés rise about 1½” above the ramekins about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, dust with confectioners' sugar and serve immediately with whipped or heavy cream.
Gerard’s Wine Suggestion
With the delicate light texture of a soufflé we must pair very light but flavorful wines. For the cheese soufflé I found a Cote du Rhone Belleruche 2009 from Michel Chapoutier. A lovely balance of grenache and syrah. Served cool, the cherry aromas with hints of licorice and pepper will compliment the cheese. Arlington wine & spirit - $ 9.99.   For the chocolate, nothing would be better than a Banyuls, but I could not find one locally, so I chose a port wine - Sandman Founders Reserve. It has an intense ruby color, and brilliant powerful flavors. $18.99 at Arlington Wine & Spirit.

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