Thursday, May 11, 2017

Chocolate Soufflés

The lavish chocolate soufflé. I've made "cheater" versions of soufflés (it's amazing how you can achieve that 'fluffy' texture without actually doing a proper soufflé technique) and I've made soufflés on the job, but never at home have I made a proper soufflé. My parents asked for them, chocolate of course, so here we are. Soufflés don't deserve their reputation of being exceedingly difficult; they simply require a little extra care and attention and the real challenge is the timing as a good soufflé only has a couple minutes from oven to table before it collapses. It will still taste great, in fact you can even enjoy a soufflé the next day either cold or reheated in the microwave (what a sin). But if you want all the 'impressiveness' of a soufflé in all its glory, you'd better have your guests seated the minute the soufflés are popped in the oven! 

Chocolate Soufflés
6 large whole eggs, cold
250 grams 70% cocoa good-quality chocolate
unsalted butter, as needed
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch salt
3/4 cup granulated (white) sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Separate the egg yolks and whites into different bowls while the eggs are cold. Set aside to come to room temperature.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly, but do not allow it to harden.

Prepare the ramekins. You will need six, one-cup ramekins. Use a pastry brush to coat the insides entirely with butter - coat the bottoms first then use the brush to swipe the butter upwards. Swiping the butter up the sides of the ramekin in straight lines encourages the soufflés to rise upwards. Sprinkle the ramekins with a small amount of granulated sugar, shaking to coat evenly. If you can find superfine sugar that is best for coating so you don't get any of that 'crunch' later but it is not necessary. Place the ramekins on a flat baking tray.

Preheat oven to 400F.
Add the cream of tartar and salt to the bowl of egg whites and whip to soft peaks. Gradually whip in 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating just until glossy, stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Beat the yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and vanilla until the mixture is pale ad almost white in color, and fluffy and airy. It isn't just the whipped whites that bring volume to soufflés, the yolks do too. Fold in the melted chocolate until smooth.

Fold 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining whites. Carefully scoop the mixture among the six ramekins, taking care not to deflate the mixture. Do not smooth the tops, but run a finger around the rim of each soufflé to make an indentation.

Bake the soufflés for 10-12 minutes until puffed and risen. Quickly dust each ramekin with some icing sugar, place on a plate, and serve immediately!

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