Rise to the occasion: Try whipping up a fluffy soufflé

By on January 28, 2016

 Happy 2016! I’ve never made New Year’s resolutions before. I’ve never had the urge to do so. This year, however, I’m jumping on the bandwagon and making a slew of resolutions.

Here’s my fleeting bucket list:

Read less.
Watch more reality TV.
Keep up with the Kardashians.
Exercise less.
Gain more weight.
Drink more.
Make more soufflé.

That’s going to be easy. Let’s start with the soufflé.

I must say I know of no one besides myself who makes a soufflé. I’d like to rectify that. If you’ve never had a soufflé, you’re in for a veritable treat.

I think the problem is people tend to be intimidated sometimes when they’re in the kitchen, particularly if there’s a “newness” factor to the task at hand. People are basically scared of soufflés. We’ve all heard stories about soufflés collapsing or not even bothering to rise.

When it comes to soufflés, people believe they’re hard to do. Not so at all. I can walk you through all the steps and give you a few guidelines and tips to avoid any glitches. Do not be intimidated by mere eggs!

Bleu cheese soufflé with figs, sourwood honey, powdered sugar.

This is my recipe for your basic cheese soufflé, but once you become proficient at the basics, you can branch out and experiment a bit. Try chocolate dessert soufflés for a special treat. You also might consider using smaller ramekins to make individual servings like I did with my bleu cheese soufflés served with figs, drizzled with honey, and sprinkled with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Individual ramekins do very well. Each of your diners will have their own serving dish.

Rosie’s Soufflé Tips:

  • Mise-en-place. It’s a French culinary phrase for “put in place.” I can’t stress the importance of mise-en-place. Everything is measured, set out, and ready to go. You don’t have to search for anything; you have all your ingredients together.
  • Separate your eggs when they’re still cold. Cold eggs separate easier and there’s less chance of the yolk breaking and contaminating the whites.
  • After separating, let the whites and yolks come to room temperature. You’ll get better volume when you whip them.
  • There must be no contamination in the whites. No bit of yolk can be in the whites, else they won’t whip up. Both beaters and bowl must be immaculately clean — not a trace of moisture or grease. Yolks have fat and some protein. The white is all protein. When you beat whites, you’re beating air into them. The protein in the whites forms a skin around the bubbles of air; however, if there is any fat, this skin can’t form and the trapped air leaks away.
  • When beating the whites, you want stiff peaks. There’s a point of beating where you start to lose the shine of the egg whites. That’s when the meringue is ready.
  • Do not over-mix the whites into your base. Lightly and gently fold them in.
  • When preparing the custard base, whisk constantly. Silky and smooth can quickly turn to curdled.
  • Do not open the oven door while you’re baking. Sudden changes in temperature will reduce the soufflé’s rise. Monitor the cooking progress through the window.

Now, no excuses. Go make a soufflé. It ain’t rocket surgery.

 Cheese Soufflé
Butter, for greasing an 8-inch soufflé dish
3 TB grated Parmesan cheese
3 TB unsalted butter
3 TB flour
1 tsp dry mustard
½ tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
½ cup skim milk
7 oz. heavy cream
4 yolks, room temperature
3 ounces grated cheddar cheese
3 ounces grated Gruyère cheese
5 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Heat oven to 375°.
Butter the soufflé dish and add the Parmesan, rolling the dish to cover the sides. This gives the rising soufflé something to hold onto as it climbs up the sides of the dish. Refrigerate while you prepare the soufflé.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in flour, dry mustard, salt, and pepper. Cook, whisking for about 2 minutes, to get the raw taste out of the flour.

In a small saucepan, scald the milk and cream together and whisk the hot mixture into the flour and butter mixture. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, beat yolks until light and creamy. Temper yolks into the milk mixture. When a recipe calls for you to temper eggs, you need to stream a little of the hot liquid to the egg mixture. If you just combine the two, you’ll end up with cooked eggs. You want to slowly bring up the temperature of the eggs without scrambling.

Stream a little of the hot base mixture into the beaten eggs, whisking constantly. Once the eggs are warmed up this way, they can safely be added to the base. Mix thoroughly. Stir in grated cheese.

In another bowl, whip egg whites and cream of tartar with a hand mixer until glossy and stiff peaks form. The cream of tartar is an acid which will lower the pH and make your whites more stable and increase the volume. A rule of thumb is you should be able to turn the bowl upside-down and not have the whites slip out.

Stir in ¼ of the egg whites to the base to lighten. Gently fold in the rest of the white by thirds.
Pour mixture into soufflé dish and bake 35-40 minutes.

Serve immediately.
The soufflé waits for no one.

I liken this to eating a cheese-flavored cloud.

For happiness, please visit with Rosie, at KitchensAreMonkeyBusiness.com. It’s a good place to go.

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