There’s a certain mystique associated with souffles. The word conjures up images of a dimly lit French cafe-crisp white linens, a carafe of wine and expectations of of a dish light and fluffy, something you would never make at home. Well, you don’t have to travel to France to experience this. You-yes you-can make a souffle in your own kitchen. It’s much easier than you think.
The base for the souffle can be made up to two hours ahead and set aside until you are ready to pop the dish in the oven. The hardest part is whipping your egg whites. A copper bowl and a whisk is the traditional method for beating the whites, but a mixer will do the trick in no time at all. Fold the whites into your base, and into the oven it goes.
There’s only one cardinal rule-your guests must be ready to go to the table in about 20 minutes. The souffle waits for no one and once taken out of the oven it will hold its lovely puffy stature only very briefly. It will still taste delectable after deflating, but you want to be able to wow everyone with your prowess.
This time I made a classic cheese souffle but you can vary the flavor if you like. What about a chocolate one for dessert? I’m having some issues with my oven at the moment so the top of my souffle came out a little too browned, nonetheless the flavor and consistency were right on. Maybe I’ll have a new oven before I make the next one!
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk, heated until steaming
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 extra-large egg yolks
5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) grated aged cheddar cheese
Position the rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Butter a 6 cup souffle dish and add Parmesan cheese. Tilt the dish to coat the bottom and the sides.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture begins to foam and loses raw taste, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour in warm milk, whisking until smooth. Return to the heat, whisking constantly until thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add nutmeg, paprika and salt. Add egg yolks one at a time. Stir in the cheese and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Cool to lukewarm. Can be done up to 2 hours ahead. If making ahead, cool and then cover.
Put the egg whites and a pinch of salt into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until stiff, but not dry. Whisk one quarter of whites into souffle base to lighten, then gradually fold in the rest of the whites. Transfer the batter to the prepared dish.
Place the dish in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 375 degrees. Bake until souffle is puffed and golden on top and center moves only slightly when dish is shaken gently, about 25 minutes. Do not open the door to the oven during the first 20 minutes. Serve immmediately. Serves: 2-3