Details:


February 2012
20 minutes of actual work
1 hour start to finish
Serves 4

Types: Gluten Free and Sweets.
Cuisines: French.
Seasons: Winter and Spring.
Events: Birthdays, Anniversaries, and Holidays.
Meals: Dessert.

A French word which literally means "puffed up," is a culinary term in both French and English (and used in many other languages) for a light, frothy dish, just stiff enough to hold its shape, and which may be savory or sweet, hot or cold.

The basic hot souffle has as its starting point a roux--a cooked mixture of flour and butter...This type of souffle was a French invention of the late 18th century. Beauvilliers was making souffles possibly as early as 1782 (though he did not publish his L'Art du cusinier until 1814). Recipes for various kinds appear in Louis Ude's The French Cook of 1813, a work which promises a "new method of giving good and extremely cheap fashionable suppers at routs and soirees". Later, in 1841, Careme's Patissier Royal Parisien goes into great detail on the technique of making souffles, from which it is clear that cooks had been having much trouble with souffles that collapsed.

Souffles are one part magic, one part luck and one part science. We had hoped to learn about the science of aeration, rising and baking and this souffle project delivered. It turns out, that as the moisture in the baking mixture is evaporated, it clings to the soft, light and delicate molecules of the egg whites and causes the mixture to rise. Moisture evaporates, the mixture rises and the heat helps to form permanent bonds; resulting in a risen souffle.

It's quite amazing, we've always used proofed yeast or baking soda/powder to help rise desserts, and this recipe has none of those! It is, truly, like magic. To help set the souffle as it bakes, use a protein. Typically, egg yolks are used, but we chose to use xantham gum instead.

Sugar is used in the egg whites to help bond the egg whites with the air molecules and itself.

The Recipe

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When we planned out the recipe for this month we felt the challenge of a soufflé would be be refreshing, but it’s safe to say that we underestimated the intricacies of truly understanding and mastering a french soufflé. Needless to say, 6 different recipes, 20 plus ramekins of soufflé to test and too many burnt tongues later we present to you the ‘In Our Kitchen’ Chocolate Soufflé.

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We started out with a typical French soufflé, but we felt the addition of egg yolk (though scientifically helpful), over powered the soufflé and turned it into a sweet omelette. We used a few recipes as measuring sticks but we found there was too much chocolate in most, so we decided to tweak our base recipe. Overall we decided we wanted a rich, moist, well balanced soufflé that was more like a mousse than an omelette. Those qualities, along with the addition of dulce de leche (courtesy of Alton Brown), make this the easiest, and most rewarding chocolate soufflé.

Of all the dishes you can make in the oven, these have to be the easiest to marvel at. Once they are set in the oven, grab a drink and park yourself in front of the oven and watch the magic happen.

Notes:

The inclusion of xantham gum is needed if you’d like a stiffer structure in the soufflé, allowing it to rise evenly and keep it’s shape once it’s out of the oven. Traditionally this is accomplished with egg yolks, but as we mentioned, it felt too egg-y when we incorporated egg yolks.

Feel free to add a splash of acid when whipping your egg whites, it will help denature the egg white, creating a stiff and rich creamy texture.

Dulce de leche is the perfect compliment to this soufflé, but feel free to use your imagination: raspberry coulis, vanilla pudding, butterscotch, the list is endless.

Make sure the bowl in which you beat the egg whites is completely free of any oils. Use a metal or glass bowl as plastic releases oils.

 

The Formula

Ingredients

Chocolate Soufflé

  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 3 oz. dark chocolate
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • ½ cup super fine sugar
  • 2 tsp. butter (for ramekin dusting)

Dulce de Lèche

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup organic cane sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • ¼ tsp baking soda

Directions

Chocolate Soufflé

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Prepare ramekin dishes by rubbing with butter.
  3. Melt dark chocolate with whipping cream and butter in a double boiler until completely mixed.  Add cocoa powder.  Mix thoroughly.  Set aside melted chocolate mixture and allow to cool completely.
  4. Whip egg whites until soft peaks form.  Once soft peaks have been formed, add sugar in 2 tbsp. increments.  When the egg whites form soft peaks, they are done. Be sure to not over mix the egg whites, as this will impede the souffle's ability to rise.
  5. When chocolate base mixture has cooled completely, fold in egg whites - quickly. Fold from the bottom of the mixture, coming over top it and repeating until just incorporated. You don't want any noticeable streaks or white or brown.
  6. Pour batter into ramekin dishes.    Run thumb around the inner edge of the ramekin dish.  This will help with the souffle raising.
  7. Moisten finger and flatten the top of the batter in the ramekin.
  8. Bake for 15 to 20 min. on the middle oven rack.  Bake until souffle has risen about 1- 1 ½ inches above rim of ramekin.
  9. Serve immediately with a couple tablespoons of the Dulce de Lèche over the soufflé.

Dulce de Lèche

  1. Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds in a large, 4-quart saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the baking soda and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer. Stir occasionally, but do not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture.
  3. Continue to cook for 1 hour. Remove the vanilla bean after 1 hour and continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 3/4 cup, approximately 30 to 60 minutes.
  4. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month.

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