Quarantined chocolate soufflés

chocolate souffle - presentation (serving)

Have you ever craved a silky soufflé but hesitated to try? I certainly have. The eggy concoction seemed too finicky and prone to failure. Also, I thought it had to be baked at the last minute. So how would it ever work as a make-ahead dessert for company?

Well, with all the time in the world available these days for experimenting, and as the corona virus pandemic is demanding that no company cross our threshold, this seemed the perfect time to try.

What says Easter more than eggs and chocolate? So, I decided to make individual soufflés for our party of two at Easter dinner. Google suggested Chef John’s soufflé for two.

Important

So that I could make dessert quickly after dinner when the time came, I  measured out all my ingredients well ahead of dinner and got out all the equipment I would need and organized it into stations. See the photos. The quantities are small and it took no time at all. Then when the dishes for the main course were cleared away, I made the soufflés. It was unbelievably easy! And heavenly tasting! Here’s how it’s done.

Chocolate souffles

Easter Chocolate Soufflés
2 individual servings of 5 ounces or 3 of 4 ounces

  • 1 teaspoon melted butter, or as needed
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 ounces 70% dark chocolate, chopped into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/3 tablespoons cold milk
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 pinch cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Preparing the cups: Brush bottom and sides of two  5-ounce (or three 4-ounce) ramekins lightly with 1 teaspoon melted butter. Make sure to cover the bottom and sides right up to the rim… important for the rise. Add 1 tablespoon white sugar to ramekins. Rotate and firmly tap the ramekins until sugar coats all surfaces, es[ecially the sides. Pour off extra sugar.
  3. Melting the chocolate: Place chocolate pieces in a metal mixing bowl. Place bowl over a pan of about 3 cups hot water over low heat. Do not let water boil. Stir gently until all the pieces have nearly liquified. Remove the pots from the heat and allow the chocolate to continue melting over the hot water.
  4. Making the cream sauce: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour. Whisk until flour is incorporated into butter and mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low. Whisk in cold milk until mixture becomes smooth and thickens, 2 or 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Transfer mixture to bowl with melted chocolate. Add salt and very small pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix together thoroughly. Add egg yolk and mix to combine. Leave bowl above the hot (not simmering) water to keep chocolate warm while you whip the egg whites.
  5. Whipping the egg whites: Place 2 egg whites in a mixing bowl Add cream of tartar. Whisk with hand mixer until mixture begins to thicken and a drizzle from the whisk stays on the surface about 1 second before disappearing into the mix, 2 or 3 minutes. Add 1/3 of the sugar and whip it in, about 15 seconds. Whip in a bit more sugar, about 15 seconds.  Whip in the rest of the sugar and continue whipping until the mixture is about as thick as shaving cream and holds soft shiny peaks, 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Finishing the souffle: Transfer a little less than half of egg whites to the chocolate mixture. and fold them in with a rubber spatula until the egg whites are thoroughly incorporated, 1 or 2 minutes. Add this mixture back into the rest of the egg whites and gently fold into the chocolate with a spatula, lifting from the bottom and folding over. Stop mixing after the egg white disappears.
  7. Divide mixture between the two  (or three) prepared ramekins. Place ramekins on your prepared baking sheet.
  8. Change oven setting to “bake”  and pop the tray of ramekins into the hot oven. Bake until soufflés are puffed and have risen above the top of the rims, 12 to 15 minutes. If they start to crack, remove them immediately.
  9. Serving: The souflees are best served hot from the oven. But if you put them in the fridge and serve them later, they are still tasty, just not as light and puffy.
chocolate souffle - baking in the oven (rising)

Souflees as seen through the oven door – rising!

Notes:

  1. I baked my soufflés for 12 minutes. Perhaps if I had removed them a minute sooner, the cracks in the crust might not have occurred.
  2. If you want to add liquor to this recipe, mix 2 teaspoons into the milk and flour mixture after you turn off the heat. Rum works beautifully, as does coffee, orange, or raspberry liqueur. I forgot, so instead, I used a small plastic funnel to pour 1 teaspoon of Grand Marnier deep inside  the center of each cooked soufflé after they came out of the oven. Wonderful!
  3. I adapted a recipe from All Recipes. The quantities were perfect as written and I made only small changes to the method. The photos are mine (www.allrecipes.com/recipe/257193/chef-johns-chocolate-souffle/).
chocolate souffle - ready to eat

Perfection

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