Mention soufflé and people are generally quick to judge—too difficult, too fancy.
Come to find out, neither is true. The only trick to soufflé is serving it immediately. And once you know these soufflé building blocks, the creative possibilities are limitless:
1. The foundation is a basic white sauce—also known as béchamel—enriched with egg yolks.
2. Add about 1/2 cup cheese, seafood, vegetables and/or meat to the base.
3. Use a very clean bowl to whip egg whites.
4. Stir a spoonful of stiff whites into the base. Then, carefully fold in remaining whites and bake.
Dessert soufflés are flavored with vanilla, lemon, or chocolate—but less butter and milk in the base—and the steps are the same as other soufflés.
For breakfast, serve a classic ham and cheese soufflé; for lunch, a seafood soufflé garnished with a shrimp; for the first course, a spinach and kale soufflé; and for dessert, chocolate soufflé with fresh berries.
Spinach And Kale Soufflé(Serves 4)2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, or Grana Padano cheese, grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
12 ounces baby kale and spinach leaves, washed and chopped
2½ tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 tablespoon for greasing the soufflé dish)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup milk (skim, 2%, or whole), simmering
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup Gruyere or Swiss cheese, grated or shreddedTo prepare:Generously butter bottom and sides of a 1-quart baking dish, or charlotte mold.
Dust with Parmesan cheese.
Generously butter aluminum foil, using a double thickness that will stand 3 inches above the dish.
Secure the “collar” by inserting a straight pin at the top.
Press remainder of foil securely to the dish.
Add oil and shallot to a small saucepan over moderate-high heat.
Sauté for 1 minute.
Sauté, until wilted and liquid has evaporated.
Add salt and pepper.
Transfer greens to a linen napkin, wring to extract liquid.
Fluff with a fork.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over moderate heat.
Whisk in flour, paprika, nutmeg and pepper, stirring constantly.
Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove pan from heat.
Pour hot milk in all at once, stirring vigorously until blended.
Return the pan to heat.
Slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
Cook for 3 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Add egg yolks, one by one, beating well after each addition.
Stir spinach/kale mixture into the base.
Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Set rack in the lower third of the oven.
Wash electric mixer bowl and beaters with white vinegar and salt.
Rinse and wipe dry with paper towels.
Place egg whites in the bowl.Add salt.
Beat on medium, until frothy.
Continue beating on high, until stiff shining peaks form.
Spoon 1/4 of stiff whites onto the warm base.
Stir, until blended.
Carefully and rapidly fold remaining whites into base, alternating the turns with some of the shredded cheese as you fold.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared dish.
Place on lower rack of oven.
Reduce temperature to 375°F.
Bake, until soufflé has puffed 2 to 3 inches over the dish supported by the collar and the top is brown, about 25 minutes.
Check by inserting a thin cake tester near the center. It should come out clean.
Gently, but quickly, remove the collar.
Present the soufflé at the table at once.
Pull the soufflé into four portions, starting in the center, using a serving spoon and fork held upright and back-to-back.Chocolate Soufflé(Serves 6)1 teaspoon butter, for greasing dish
2 tablespoons flour, for dusting dish
4 ounces dark chocolate
2 tablespoons espresso coffee
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup 2% milk, or whole milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 pinches salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
5 egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Berries, for garnishTo prepare:Preheat oven to 400°F.
Butter and flour a 6-cup soufflé dish fitted with a collar.
Melt chocolate and coffee together in a small saucepan over low heat.
Whisk cornstarch with 3 tablespoons milk in a medium saucepan, until smooth.
Add remaining milk and sugar.
Whisk until smooth.
Place over moderate heat.
Boil, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Add a pinch salt and vanilla.
Add egg yolks, beating well after each addition.
Whisk in butter and melted chocolate, until well mixed.
Beat egg whites and a pinch salt in a clean mixing bowl, until frothy.
Gradually add sugar.
Continue beating, until stiff peaks form.
Stir 1/4 of the stiff whites into the chocolate base.
Fold in the rest.
Transfer to soufflé dish.
Place in oven.
Reduce heat to 375°F.
Bake for 35 minutes.
Gently pull rack out to dust the soufflé with powder sugar.
Slide back in.
Continue baking, until brown on edges, about 10 minutes longer.
Sprinkle powdered sugar over each portion.
Garnish with berries.