Tuesday, June 14

Chocolate Soufflé

Back in middle school and high school, I played a decent amount of basketball.  In the beginning, I had practice regularly two nights a week.  One night I threw on my practice jersey, put on my shoes, and prepared to get into the car with my dad.  We shouted our goodbyes up the stairs and opened the front door as my mother cried out a semi-hysterical and shrill, "What?!"  I ran back up the stairs just in time to see my mom pull a perfectly-crisped and puffy cheese soufflé out of the oven.

my chocolate soufflé

Soufflé, for those of you that are not familiar, is a light baked dish made up of a base and whipped egg whites.  The base is made out of la roux (milk, flour, and butter), egg yolks, and flavored with anything from cheese to chocolate to Grand Marnier.  The two parts are then folded together and baked so that it rises... and falls after 5 to 10 minutes out of the oven.  My mom makes a killer souffle.  It is one of those favorite and famous meals in my family.

egg whites

chocolate and egg yolks

So there we all are in the kitchen as my mom carefully extracts the most impressive and puffy soufflé she has ever made.  And we have to leave just as the soufflé hisses its hiss of deflation and falls.  This is one of the great tragedies in our family lore - that we could not enjoy .  In my first attempt, I decided to make chocolate soufflé.

just before the oven

Chocolate Soufflé
from The New York Times Cookbook

2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
3/4 milk
pinch o' salt
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbs cold coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
whipped cream (if desired, which is should be)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a small pot, melt the butter, add the flour and stir with a wire whisk until blended.  Meanwhile bring the milk to a boil and add it all at once to the butter and flour.  Combine with the whisk and add the salt.
Melt the chocolate with the sugar and the coffee over hot water (...or in the microwave).  Stir the mixture together and add it, plus the vanilla, to the butter, milk, and flour.  Beat in the egg yolks one at a time and let it cool a bit.
Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.  This step has the greatest possibility for messing up your soufflé.  The goal is to mix everything together without beating out the little pockets of air bubbles in the egg whites.  When I did this part (with my mother looking over my shoulder), I folded just until everything was mixed, but there were still little flecks of white egg whites throughout.  Butter and sprinkle with sugar a 2-quart casserole dish and pour in the soufflé mix.  Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until everything is puffy and brown.  Serve (immediately) with whip cream.

Making a soufflé can be stressful, especially for the first time.  As my roommate knows well, Barry Louis Polisar's "All I Want Is You" is a song that always helps me release stress.  Barry is a children's songwriter and author for things like Sesame Street (what up, Cookie Monster?):

Claiborne, Craig. "Chocolate Soufflé." The New York Times Cookbook. New York: Harper & Row, 1961. 605. Print.

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