Souffles are the classic pastry phobia. But there is no reason not to try making them at home. Even a fallen soufflé tastes amazing. For best results, have patience, and some good, straight-sided ramekins. For me, this roux based soufflé has always been the most successful. It’s a very stable base that can be used for a number of different flavors, including savory cheese. See the Variations for some ideas.
¾ cup butter (6 ounces) unsalted butter, plus an extra tablespoon for the ramekin
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
½ cup granulated sugar, divided
2 large egg yolks
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 ½ teaspoon unrefined salt – try Maldon, Cyprus Flake, any fleur de sel, or a salt infused with rosemary, orange, rose, vanilla, chocolate, or espresso
5 egg whites
- Preheat oven to 425° F. Combine milk and sugar in a small saucepan, and heat to a simmer. Stir until sugar is melted, then set aside. Melt chocolate over a double boiler (or in a microwave, stopping to stir every 15 seconds until melted), then set aside. Coat four 8-ounce ramekins very lightly with melted butter, then with granulated sugar, tapping out the extra. Set aside.
- Melt 6 ounces of the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the flour, and whisk it in until it is all absorbed. (This is a roux.) Slowly drizzle in milk, while whisking, to form a smooth paste. (This is the base for béchamel sauce.) Remove from heat and stir in egg yolks, one at a time. Add chocolate, 1 teaspoon salt, and mix until well incorporated. Transfer to a large bowl.
- In a clean bowl, using a standing mixer, handheld beaters, or a balloon whisk, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold a third of the stiff egg whites into the chocolate base to thin it out, then add the rest and carefully fold together until uniform in color. (Do not fold too much, or you will deflate the air in the egg whites.)
- Fill prepared ramekins all the way to the rim. Wipe off any drips on the rim, place them on a baking sheet, and sprinkle the top with a bit more salt. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, until risen well above the rim. (The risen sides of the soufflé will look dry when it is ready.) Remove from oven, carefully and transfer ramekin to a napkin lined plate (to keep the ramekin from sliding as it is carried to the table). Serve immediately, and offer your guests accompanying bowls of whipped cream, fresh berries, or complimentary sauces.
Salted Caramel – Omit the ½ cup of sugar, and replace the bittersweet chocolate with an equal amount of caramel sauce. Use a big pyramid flake salt, or a smoked salt.
Fruity– Reduce the sugar to ¼ cup, and replace the bittersweet chocolate with an equal amount of fruit jam, marmalade, or lemon curd. Try a salt infused with citrus, rosemary, rose, or chipotle.
Pumpkin – Replace the bittersweet chocolate with an equal amount of pumpkin puree, and add about 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice with the egg yolks. Try Persian Blue here, or a salt infused with allspice, nutmeg, or cinnamon.
Cheese – Replace the sugar on the inside of the ramekin with finely grated parmesan cheese. Omit the sugar from the recipe, and replace the chocolate with an equal amount of grated cheese. Add herbs, and up to ½ cup of other garnish, such as chopped ham or sautéed mushrooms. Try this with Murray River, smoked salt, or a salt infused with herbs, shitake, or truffles.