Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Individual Chocolate Soufflés
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...We had two desserts last week that by modern standards are both candidates for spots in a directory of old-fashioned food. One is a German pudding that I plan to feature tomorrow, the other is a chocolate soufflé that will take center stage today . Despite its fragile appearance a soufflé is actually a sturdy dessert that is quite easy to prepare. If you can make a custard and a meringue, and can fold one into the other, you can make a soufflé. The only element missing from most recipes for this classic treat is the courage to actually try it. The lofty and fragile appearance of the soufflé comes from the effect of heat on the air bubbles in the egg whites. They expand as the soufflé bakes and then collapse as they cool. For that reason, this is a dessert with attitude. It waits for no man, or woman, and if you want to see it at the height of its glory, you'd best get it to the table as soon as it comes from the oven. You have about 5 minutes before it starts to sink, and while that won't affect taste, it can ruin expectations. I rarely make soufflés for formal parties, but I make them regularly for family and friends. I'm partial to the lemon and apricot varieties, but since chocolate is the one most requested, I thought I'd share that one with you. You'll notice that the ramekins used to make the individual soufflés are buttered and coated with sugar. That prevents the batter from clinging to the sides of the cups and allows it to rise to above the rims of the ramekins. I once heard someone compare the texture of a soufflé to that of wet angel food cake. That's a bit much, but the souffle will be damp and jiggly in the center and more cake-like toward the periphery of the ramekin. While the flavor base of the soufflé can be made an hour or two before baking, it's best to beat and fold the egg whites at the very last minute if you want ethereal heights. I hope you'll give this recipe a try. Here's how the individual chocolate soufflés are made.
Chocolate Soufflé...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Viking Range Test Kitchen
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
16 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cup whole milk
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon teaspoon vanilla extract
6 (6-ounce) ramekins
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Position a rack in bottom third of oven. Butter insides of ramekins, using 2 tablespoon of butter; make sure to butter top rims of ramekins as well. Use 2 tablespoon of sugar to dust insides of ramekins (including tops of rims), shake ramekins to remove any excess. Place ramekins on a baking sheet (for ease of handling), and refrigerate until needed.
2) Whisk together egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a medium mixing bowl; whisk until yolks are pale yellow in color. Whisk in flour, then set aside until needed.
3) Combine milk, chocolate, and remaining 8 tablespoons of butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat; cook, stirring often, until chocolate has melted completely and mixture is smooth. Bring just to a boil.
4) Gradually whisk a 1/2 cup of hot milk mixture into egg mixture, whisking until incorporated (tempering). Add remaining milk mixture, and stir to combine. Pour tempered egg mixture back into sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is the consistency of cake batter. Remove from heat, whisk in vanilla, and set aside until needed.
5) Place egg whites in a clean work bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a clean whisk attachment; whisk on medium-low speed until frothy. Increase speed to medium, and continue whisking until soft peaks form; with mixer running, gradually add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar. Increase speed to medium-high; continue whisking until whites are shiny and will hold a long soft peak when whisk attachment is lifted.
6) Whisk one-fourth of meringue into chocolate mixture to lighten it, then, using a large skimmer or spatula, carefully fold chocolate mixture into remaining meringue.
7) Spoon soufflé mixture into prepared ramekins; ramekins should be filled to the rim. Run your index finger all the way around the inside perimeter to create a 1/2-inch border; this will help the soufflé rise properly.
8) Place soufflés in oven, and bake until raised well above the rims of the ramekins and just barely firm in the center, about 15 to 17 minutes. Serve immediately with crème anglaise, raspberry sauce, or whipped cream. Yield: 6 servings.
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