Soufflé, when executed perfectly, is a thing of beauty. A soufflé should rise like a warrior who has conquered the world. A soufflé should have a crusty exterior and a soft and moist interior, like a tough cowboy who cries while watching chick flicks. Serving a soufflé is like having sex – it’s all about right timing!
The culinary school I attended ran their own restaurant in Vancouver as a part of the practical training for all students. During the last month of our training, we were in charge of the restaurant – prep work, cooking, service – all of it. Soufflé was on the dinner menu and invariably was the ultimate test of any team’s cohesiveness.
When the expeditor shouted an order of soufflé in the kitchen, it created a sense of nervous excitement in the team. The moment the ramekin was in the oven, the whole team huddled around the oven and advices from everyone in the team started flowing. Everyone thought they knew the secret to a perfect soufflé, till it was their turn to make one. If and when the soufflé rose above the rim, there were always muted cheers. If the chef in charge of service was not around to deliver the soufflé to the table, we would run to the dining hall with it!
Looking back on all those hits and misses of my soufflé adventures makes me laugh now. There is no magic to making a perfect soufflé, it is just science! The secret to a perfect soufflé is the air in whipped egg whites which expands the egg whites to create a light, fluffy texture and a tall rise. I will leave you with another philosophical statement I heard in my culinary school – A soufflé is much like life, it waits for no one. So eat your dessert first, and enjoy every bite of it!
Chocolate and Orange is my favorite flavor combination. The richness of dark chocolate and bittersweet tastes and aromas of orange is a match made in culinary heaven! I really hope you try this recipe and put your soufflé phobias behind. Enjoy!
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened + extra for the ramekins
1/4 cup sugar + extra for the ramekins
6 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup whole milk
2 tbsp orange zest, grated
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
6 large eggs – yolks and whiles separated
pinch of salt
powdered sugar for dusting
Heat oven to 375°F degrees. Grease 6 ramekins with softened butter, coat them evenly with sugar and pour out access. Put ramekins in the fridge until ready to use. This rough surface will help the soufflé rise in the oven.
Split vanilla bean lengthwise. Using a small paring knife, scrap out seeds and then mix the seeds in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, set aside.
Melt chopped chocolate and 3 tbsp of butter in a double boiler (heatproof bowl set over saucepan of simmering water). Stir occasionally until chocolate melts. Add cocoa powder, vanilla infused milk and orange zest. Stir until mixture is smooth and creamy, set aside.
Beat egg yolks with 1/8 cup of sugar until thick and pale yellow. Fold this into chocolate mixture.
Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and whip. Add rest of sugar and whip until stiff peak forms, as shown in the picture. Do not over whip egg whites, you will know that egg whites are over whipped when it starts to separate.
Using rubber spatula, gently fold egg whites into chocolate mixture , 1/4 part of the mixture at a time until smoothly incorporated.
Fill the ramekins with chocolate mixture, 1/4 inch below the rim. Wipe rim with wet paper towel to get rid of access butter and sugar. Bake until the soufflé rises 1 to 1/2 inches above rim, about 12 – 15 minutes. Look for a crusty top. Dust the top with powder sugar and serve immediately.
I also have successfully used orange shells as ramekins. Cut the top of the orange and scoop out the insides to make a hollow shell. Dry the inside of the shell with a paper napkin. Coat them evenly with sugar and pour out access. No need to use butter with orange shell ramekins.