Soufflés must be the foods of the ancient gods, and Chocolate soufflés must have been personally blessed by Zeus and Athena. Nothing ends a meal better than a splendidly poofed, light-as-air, hot-from-the-oven chocolate soufflé. Many people think they are temperamental and difficult to make, but they’re really not as demanding as all that.
In its most simplistic form, a soufflé is a light, fluffy, baked cake made with egg yolks and lots of whipped egg whites combined with various other ingredients, and served as a savory main dish or sweetened as a dessert. The word soufflé is from the French verb souffler which means “to blow up” or more loosely “poof up” — an apt description of what happens when heat is added to this combination of custard and egg whites.
The custard or crème patissiere or a cream sauce or purée is the base for the flavor, and the egg whites, beaten to a soft peak meringue, provide the “lift.” You can use jams fruits, berries, bananas lemon and chocolate. When it gently comes out of the oven, a soufflé should be puffed up and fluffy. It will generally fall after 5 or 10 minutes.
Soufflés can be made in containers of all shapes and sizes but it is traditional to make soufflé in ramekins. These glazed white containers vary greatly in size, are typically, flat-bottomed, round, oven-proof porcelain containers with unglazed bottoms and fluted exterior borders.
Because of its tendency to fall rather quickly at the slightest sound, movement or door slam, the soufflé has been portrayed as very difficult to survive outside the oven for more than a few minutes. Some jest that a poke or a loud noise will make a soufflé collapse and with it, the ego of the cook.
Here is my version of an intense, semi-sweet soufflé which is close to failure-proof. If you follow my directions to the letter, it should never fail or fall. If these soufflés are not rich enough for your tastes, top them with a warm chocolate ganache sauce, crème Anglaise or whipped cream, chocolate or not. Making the Dark Chocolate Ganache is the secret to a faultless soufflé.
FAULTLESS CHOCOLATE SOUFFLÉ
Makes 8 individual soufflés
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 15 minutes
Skill Level: **
medium, heavy saucepan
plastic sealable storage container
electric stand mixer, bowl, and whisk attachment
8 individual 4 to 6-ounce soufflé dishes
For the ganache: (makes about 1/2 pound of ganache)
Save the unused ganache for the soufflé sauce or a topping for ice cream later on.
5 tablespoons water
1-½ tablespoons light corn syrup (Karo)
1-½ teaspoons unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
Dash of salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least sixty-four percent), coarsely chopped
For the soufflé:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (to prep the soufflé dishes)
4 teaspoons granulated sugar (to prep the soufflé dishes)
¾ cup Dark Chocolate Ganache, softened
½ cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
5 large egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
5 large egg yolks
Directions for the ganache:
- You can make the ganache ahead and hold in the refrigerator.
- In a heavy saucepan, bring the water, corn syrup, cocoa powder and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk until blended. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Immediately add the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Set aside for about 1 hour to cool completely, whisking every 15 minutes or so to keep the ganache emulsified.
- When cool, transfer the ganache to a rigid plastic or glass container, cover, date, and refrigerate for up to 3 months.
Directions for the soufflé:
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Brush the soufflé dishes with the melted butter so that the bottom and sides are well coated. Sprinkle the bottom and sides with the granulated sugar.
- In a metal bowl set over a saucepan partly filled with boiling water and set over medium-high heat, melt the chocolate ganache.
- In another saucepan, bring the cream to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the cream boils, remove the pan from the heat. Add the melted ganache and cocoa powder and stir well. The batter should be about the consistency of buttermilk. Set aside to cool slightly. You want it to be still warm to the touch like a baby’s bottle.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. This could take 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat for about 1 minute longer to fully incorporate. Set aside.
- Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate mixture and whisk well. When fully incorporated, gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, about ½ cup at a time.
- Without wasting any time, fill soufflé dishes to the rim with the batter and level the surface with a metal spatula.
- As quickly as you can, but without rushing, transfer the soufflé dishes to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Resist the urge to open the oven door for the first 12 minutes before checking to make sure they have risen nicely. When you open the oven door, do so slowly and just peek inside. Close it quickly but as gently as you can.
- Serve immediately.