Light, fluffy soufflé will impress guests

A soufflé is made with a sauce that is flavoured either sweet or savoury and in which stiffly beaten egg whites are then gently folded in. It is poured into a straight-sided prepared baking dish and baked in the oven until it puffs up and is golden on top.

Properly beaten egg whites are the key ingredient: overbeaten and they are dry; under beaten and they will not create adequate volume.

Fat is the enemy to creating the perfectly whipped whites. Even a speck of yolk or an oily bowl will result in failed egg whites. Plastic bowls are never used because they can absorb oils. A clean metal bowl is the best choice.

Room temperature whites will give the best volume. Leave them on the counter for half hour or more before beating.

Prepare the mould for the soufflé by first buttering the bottom and sides generously. Then roll grated cheese or breadcrumbs in the mould for savoury soufflés and granulated sugar for sweet soufflés.

Turn the dish upside down to discard any coatings that do not stick. This will allow the batter to climb up the mould during baking.

The soufflé should be baked on the middle shelf in the centre of the oven. It will have risen five or eight centimetres over the rim after about half an hour and will be browned on top. Take it out at that point if you like a creamy centre.

However, it is fragile and will sink as soon as it comes out of the oven. For a firmer soufflé, leave it in the oven for another five minutes. It will still begin to sink after five minutes in a turned off oven so get it to the table quickly.

Serve a soufflé by breaking the top open gently with a spoon and a fork. A sauce can be poured in for serving.

Goat cheese soufflé in phyllo cup

This simple yet elegant individual soufflé dresses up an otherwise ordinary green salad.
Make a tossed salad lightly dressed with a vinaigrette and place one cup on each serving. The cups can be made a day ahead and left in the pan at room temperature. The filling can be made one day ahead without the egg whites and chilled. Bring it to room temperature and stir lightly before finishing.

For phyllo cups

  • 6 sheets phyllo pastry, thawed if frozen
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted 60 mL

For soufflé filling

  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. all purpose flour 30 mL
  • 3/4 c. whole milk 175 mL
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard 10 mL
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 c. finely grated parmesan cheese 125 mL
  • 2/3 c. soft mild goat cheese, crumbled 150 mL

Make the cups first. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).
Cover stack of phyllo with two overlapping sheets of plastic wrap and a dampened kitchen towel. Put one phyllo sheet on a work surface and brush with butter and then top with two more sheets of phyllo, brushing each with butter.
Cut buttered stack into six squares with a sharp knife, trimming sides as needed. Line each of six muffin cups with a square. Make six more phyllo cups. Extra are good in case some of them break.
Bake cups in middle of oven until golden, about eight minutes, and then cool completely in pan on a rack. Increase oven temperature to 400 F (200 C).
Make the soufflé while cups are cooling. Melt butter in a three quart (3 L) heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and then whisk in flour.

Cook roux, whisking, three minutes. Add milk in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, for five minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard, yolks and 1/4 cup (60 mL) parmesan cheese until combined,. Then fold in goat cheese. Cover surface of mixture with wax paper if not using immediately.
Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer until they just hold stiff peaks. Fold one-third of whites into sauce to lighten and then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
Spoon batter into eight phyllo cups and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake in middle of oven until soufflés are puffed and golden, about 15 minutes.
Place a soufflé cup on each salad and serve immediately.

Make-ahead chocolate soufflés

This recipe makes it possible to serve a special dessert without last minute stress. These go straight from the freezer to the oven and are ready in 20 minutes. Granulated white sugar can be substituted for the cane sugar. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. This can be served with vanilla ice cream.

  • softened butter for ramekins
  • unbleached cane sugar for ramekins
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter cut in small chunks 60 mL
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped 225 g
  • 1/8 tsp. salt .5 mL
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 1 tbsp. coffee, chocolate or orange liqueur, optional 15 mL
  • 1/3 c. unbleached cane sugar 75 mL
  • 2 tbsp. water 30 mL
  • 3 tbsp. unbleached cane sugar 45 mL
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest 5 mL
  • 8 large egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar 1 mL

Butter eight, one cup (250 mL) ramekins and then coat evenly with sugar. Shake out excess sugar and place in refrigerator until ready to use. Melt four tablespoons (60 mL) of butter and the chocolate in a metal bowl that is placed over a pot with boiling water. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, salt and liqueur. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine 1/3 cup (75 mL) sugar and two tablespoons (30 mL) water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks on medium speed and slowly drizzle in the sugar syrup. Continue to beat until yolks are thick and pale yellow, three to five minutes. Fold egg yolks into the chocolate along with the orange zest.
Use clean beaters to beat the egg whites in a metal bowl at medium speed for 30 seconds. Add the cream of tartar and gradually add three tablespoons (45 mL) sugar. Beat until the whites hold a five cm peak and are glossy.
Energetically stir one-quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold in the remainder of the whites until just incorporated. Fill each ramekin almost to the rim. Wipe any filling from the rim with a wet paper towel. Cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least three hours and up to two days.
Place oven rack in the middle, and preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Remove soufflés from freezer, uncover and bake until risen, 16 to 18 minutes. Do not thaw soufflés because they will not rise properly. Don’t over-bake. Serve immediately. Serves eight. – Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: team@producer.com

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