Chocolate Souffle with a Twist
For an ingredient such as chocolate, the light and airy nature of a soufflé is the perfect platform for this rich and luscious flavor. Soufflés are baked cakes primarily made of egg yolks and beaten egg white that act as a vessel for both savory and sweet flavors.
Most people would assume that soufflés are complicated to make and extremely fragile. However, the complexity of this simple dessert comes more into its science than the recipe itself. The soufflé’s signature puff is accomplished when the egg white base is perfectly absent of any fat—in this case: egg yolk. The fat in egg yolks prevents the egg whites from holding enough air for the soufflé to turn out puffed up later on.
Soufflés also are not as fragile as many bakers might think. They might look delicate off the oven but this dessert can stay puffed for five minutes after it is taken out of the oven. However, soufflés are still best enjoyed right after serving. Aside from their airy and delicate appearance, soufflés taste best right after baking.
It is known to chocolate lovers that chocolate can be paired with various flavors such as orange, almond, or coffee to name a few. With this recipe adapted from Sulpice Chocolat, you can serve a luscious but light chocolate soufflé with a twist:
Softened butter and sugar, as needed
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Large pinch kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 teaspoons + 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 large egg yolks
4 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
powdered sugar, optional
For the twist:
To add a note of orange in the taste, use 1 1/2 teaspoons orange liqueur (Cointreau or Grand Marnier work best) or 1 teaspoon of orange zest
For a touch of almond, use 1 ½ teaspoons of almond liqueur such as Amaretto or 1 1/2 teaspoons of almond extract
For a hint of coffee, use 1 1/2 teaspoons of coffee liqueur such as Tia Maria or Khalua, 1 teaspoon of coffee or 2 teaspoons of freshly brewed coffee
1. Evenly spread the inside of six 4- to 5-ounce ramekins with softened butter; sprinkle on a coating of sugar and shake out any excess. Refrigerate until ready to fill.
2. Microwave the chocolate and the 2 tablespoons butter, 15 seconds at a time, then stirring to help melt larger chunks, until just melted. Or melt in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir until smooth and fully combined. Remove from heat then stir in salt, vanilla and the appropriate ingredient for the twist flavor of your choice. Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, bring 1 tablespoon water and the 8 teaspoons sugar to a boil; remove from heat.
4. Beat the yolks rapidly by hand or with an electric hand mixer at medium speed, then slowly drizzle the sugar syrup into the yolks, continuing to beat, until thickened and light yellow, about 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Fold the egg mixture into the chocolate. The recipe can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated. Allow to come to room temperature before continuing.
6. With a scrupulously clean bowl and stand mixer using the whisk attachment, briefly whip the egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy; add the cream of tartar and continue to beat. Slowly add the 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, beating until the whites are glossy and hold tall, soft peaks.
7. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and spoon about 1/4 of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture, rapidly stirring until fully incorporated, stopping to scrape the bowl as needed. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the rest of the egg whites, but do not overwork.
8. Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins up to the rim, then smooth. Clean the rim with your finger or damp paper towel, creating a sharp line between mixture and ramekin, which will help the rise. Cover and freeze at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.
To bake: Move the rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°. Meanwhile, if using whipped cream, sweeten the heavy cream with powdered sugar to taste, whip to soft peaks and fold in zest; refrigerate. Place ramekins directly from freezer into the oven. Bake until fully risen and centers rebound when lightly touched (top will be dry), about 20 minutes (if using collars, allow 6 to 8 minutes more baking time). Dust with powdered sugar. Use two spoons to open the middle of the souffles and spoon in the whipped cream, if using, or serve the whipped cream alongside. Serve immediately.
The word soufflé is a French word for “to blow up”, perfectly embodying the appearance of this sweet dessert.
Photo: Alexandria Sese