Souffle. The word itself can be rather intimidating. Of all things culinary, the mention of a souffle seems to strike fear in some, and it’s obvious why. If you have one in the oven, time freezes; you don’t walk near it, you don’t talk near it, and for chrissake, don’t even attempt to take a peek at it because it will see you and deflate in protest.
Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose Soufflés as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge! Dave and Linda provided two of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate soufflé recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website.
I’m not bragging when I say this because you know I’m the last one toot my own horn, but, I can rock a souffle. For some reason, souffles behave like children vying for some kind of privilege from me, and it’s utterly baffling. They rise like little soldiers of light and airy obedience, and even hold their position, tall and proud, until I say “at ease” once they’re presented with fancy fanfare.
People have told me I should open a souffle business. Huh? You mean a place with gym mats on the floor, padded walls, and signs that read ‘TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES BEFORE ENTERING’ and ‘Shhhhhhhh — QUIET’ ? A shop that lives in fear of its egg white laden ramekins of rapture? Please try to keep your voice down, it/they might hear you!
All that being said, is there a dish any less blog/photograph friendly? What are the chances of getting a photo of a souffle at its peak? I thought of all the Daring Cooks rushing these babies from oven to natural light. I could already read the blogs
“It deflated before I could snap a photo!”
“I lost about 1/4 of an inch in height from oven to photo!”.
Unless the sun shines in your oven, the chances of getting a photo of a souffle at its peak height, once moved, are about as good as a meteor dropping on your car tomorrow.
Oh, I worked quick, but yes, I lost 1/4 inch or more off my souffles and this was just taking them out of the oven since I don’t have enough natural light to take photos in.
Two that somewhat survived the massacre (story coming up below). Ice cream saved the day. What better way to add more vanilla into vanilla? Vanilla bean ice cream spooned on top of warm vanilla bean souffle – hot and cold, melting, sweet vanilla center manna.
SO, I wanted to keep my souffles simple, simple as in vanilla and chocolate simple, and how about this..a marble souffle, folding some chocolate souffle in with the vanilla bean souffle so you get the best of both worlds in one ramekin? A TWOFFLE!
I decided to go with an old standby for the vanilla. Okay, understatement – Todd English’s vanilla bean souffle needs a much more rousing intro than that. A superb, spectacular and phenomenal (there are not enough adjectives to express how good these are!) standby is more apt. They always turn out, so much so, that I even had the guts to add an extra egg white to make them rise even higher than they already do.
I’m such a rebel.
I used a more mousse-like souffle for the chocolate souffle, a chocolate mousseline souffle recipe from BonAppetit.com that also always turns out great. However, I used dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, even though I prefer milk chocolate, mostly due to the egg white dilution factor. It needs a more intense chocolate flavor to counteract that egg white dilution.
Since I’m such a souffle goddesssss, of course I went into this challenge with the uttermost confidence, and of course, my vanilla bean souffles turned out gorgeous. It was almost as if they knew it was a special occasion and stood taller than ever. In fact, I would say they rose even higher than the height of the ramekin! I was ECSTATIC, like a proud mama. Now, I had to be careful carrying the baking sheet with these little hot mama’s to my little suburban Lowel Ego Light nook to photograph them. With each baby step, I breathed a sigh of relief until I finally reached my destination. My inner psyche was pleading desperately, over and over..
Pleeeease don’t deflate, just give me one photo!
Lowel Ego Light Massacre
I made it. Yes! I’m ready to snap away, and they’re still standing tall!
Then I watched in horror through the viewfinder as one of the Lowel Ego Lights keeled over and smashed my perfect, tall vanilla soldiers to smithereens. Surprise attack by the Lowel outfit. I uttered a barely audible “No” and sat down in shock for a minute. I could almost hear the sad strains of Taps.
Alright, I’m not going to bore you all with some souffle eulogy; it was time to put this disaster aside. Do. Over.
Remember how I bragged on and on about my souffle expertise, above? I almost deleted that part because guess what happens when you do toot your own horn? Yep, you guessed it, my do overs were just, well..mediocre. First off, the souffles didn’t brown very well. It was really no big deal, since they rose nice and high. However, they shot up and ballooned out. They weren’t my usual straight and tall soldiers; they resembled Dizzy Gillespie’s trumpet cheeks. My ramekins runneth over.
Most of them also keeled over a bit, so much so that they resembled slinkys. But, there was actually one plus to this new souffle girth, they deflated in width before deflating in height, so I was happy to have a little more hang time vertically, as you can see below. Souffle liposuction!
Starts out like this….
Unfortunately, I also had a few chocolate slinkys. They rose beautifully, but deflated faster than usual. Again, not a big deal since both the chubby vanilla bean and chocolate carpenter’s dream souffles tasted fantastic; perfectly moist, intense in flavor, and feathery light.
…ends up like this.
No, I’m not finished kvetching because I could not wait to see how my ‘experimental’ marble twouffles would turn out. I carefully poured alternating layers of leftover chocolate and vanilla bean souffle into two buttered and sugared ramekins. I gave the tops a gentle swirl and popped them in the oven.
Visions of chocolate and vanilla swirl harmony and tall, marbled perfection danced through my head. What I was greeted with upon my dainty tiptoe to the oven was ummm..I don’t know. One looked like a poofy doughnut, and the other had a hump on one side, the top facing me instead of the ceiling.
The Hunchback of Souffle Dame.
Regardless, they tasted great and also had that firm vanilla ice cream with swirls of ‘moussey’ hot fudge texture I so coveted.
The Marble Experiment…ummmm
For aesthetic purposes, I will continue to experiment with this TWOffle. It was obvious that the chocolate needed some flour or a roux, like the vanilla bean souffle, so it could rise with it evenly -or- the density of the chocolate weighed down the vanilla, morphing them into weird, albeit delicious, souffle oddities. Stay tuned for ‘the marble experiment’ part deux…one day.
UPDATE: By adding melted chocolate and cocoa to half the vanilla bean souffle prior to folding in the egg whites, I achieved Marble Souffle success. Instructions in recipe.
Didn’t quite rise like a tall, proud soldier. “You call that a souffle, you stupid cow?” kept echoing through my head a la Gordon Ramsay.
For some souffle recipes from the challenge, click HERE.
Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Souffle Recipes
Watch Todd English make these souffles!
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar, plus more for dishes
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped (I used a whole vanilla bean)
- ¾ cup flour, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg white
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
confectioners' sugar, for dusting
vanilla ice cream
- Butter and sugar eight 6-ounce souffle dishes, including the rim of each dish.
- In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine milk and vanilla bean with scrapings. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Cover, and let steep for 1 hour.
- Remove bean from milk, and reserve for another use.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, ⅓ cup granulated sugar, and salt. Add ½ cup steeped milk, whisking to combine and form a paste.
- Transfer paste to saucepan with milk, and cook over medium heat while whisking constantly until thickened and smooth, about 5 to 8 minutes. If the mixture begins to get lumpy - remove from heat, and whisk until smooth.
- Remove saucepan from heat.
- Prepare an ice-water bath: Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice. Add egg yolks and vanilla extract to milk mixture, and whisk to combine. Transfer souffle base mixture to a shallow 1-quart container. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Set saucepan in the ice-water bath to cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Remove souffle base from refrigerator, and bring to room temperature, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F with rack in center.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 5 egg whites on low speed with cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add remaining ¼ cup sugar while slowly increasing the speed of the mixer until it is on high. Whip until egg whites are stiff and shiny.
- Gently fold egg whites into the souffle base in three additions.
- Divide between prepared dishes, gently tap on each dish on the work surface, and place on a baking sheet.
- Transfer to oven, and bake until dark golden and the sides appear spongelike, 16 to 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven, and dust with confectioners sugar. Serve immediately with vanilla bean ice cream.
- Butter each ramekin and coat with sugar.
- Before folding in the egg whites, split the vanilla bean souffle mixture into two bowls. Vigorously whisk 2 oz of melted and cooled dark chocolate plus 1 heaping teaspoon cocoa powder (preferable dark) into one bowl. Fold half the beaten egg whites into each bowl. In each buttered and sugared ramekin, pour equal amounts of the vanilla bean souffle batter and chocolate batter until you reach ¼ inch from the top. Carefully marble the two batters together using a skewer. Bake at 375 F for 16-20 minutes.