Saturday, February 13, 2016

Chocolate Soufflés for Valentine's Day

There's nothing more romantic and delicious than a Chocolate Souffle right out of the oven. Many years ago a friend and I made a Valentine's Day dinner for our significant others. The four of us were not dining together. My friend and I each made two dishes for four and swapped. I made Coquille St Jacques and Chocolate Soufflés in small ramekins. She made the salad and roasted vegetables. I think she got the easier of the deal. Nevertheless, it was one of my first forays into souffle making, and luckily I chose a recipe that couldn't fail. Both of us compared notes the next day and declared it was one of the best meals we had ever had.

I posted a recipe for Chocolate Soufflé for Bastille Day a few years ago. It's my go-to recipe, adapted from Bon Appetit. It's easy and delicious. But I'm always looking for other souffle recipes. My source for these Valentine's Day individual Chocolate Soufflés is Sunset Magazine. Sunset's been creating great recipes for years.

Valentine's Day Chocolate Soufflés
Makes 6 individual soufflés

Prep and Cook Time: 25 minutes. You can fill the soufflé dishes up to 1 day before baking and chill them (allow up to 5 extra minutes to bake). Here's a helpful hint from Sunset: increase or decrease the number of soufflés with this simple formula: For each soufflé, use 1/2 tsp butter, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 oz. chocolate, 1 Tbsp milk, 1/2 egg yolk, 1 egg white, and a small pinch of both salt and cream of tartar.

1 Tbsp sweet butter, plus more for dishes
6 Tbsp  sugar, plus more for dishes
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (use the very best quality)*
6 Tbsp milk
3 egg yolks
6 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

The Sunset recipe tops the soufflés with Vanilla Bean Cream, but I use fresh whipped cream or just eat as is. I like to keep it easy.

Preheat oven to 375°. Generously butter six 8-oz. soufflé dishes. Sprinkle butter with sugar to coat. Put dishes on baking sheet and set aside.
Bring 1 inch of water to boil in medium frying pan. Put chocolate, milk, and 1 Tbsp butter in small metal bowl. Put bowl in water and take pan off heat. Stir occasionally until chocolate melts. Remove bowl from water, mix in egg yolks, and set aside. (you can melt chocolate in a different way, if you'd like, but this is an interesting technique and controls the heat well.)
In large clean bowl, beat egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in 6 Tbsp sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Whisk 1/4 of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture. Fold chocolate mixture into remaining egg whites. Divide mixture evenly among prepared soufflé dishes and bake until set but still soft in center, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately, with whipped cream.
Serve with demitasse spoons to savor every bite.

Remember, you can fill the soufflé dishes up to 1 day before baking and chill them (allow up to 5 extra minutes to bake). 

Photo: Leo Gong, Sunset Magazine

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