Ch. 14: The awe inspiring Chocolate Soufflé

There are just some desserts I don’t touch. They stay hidden away in cookbooks and Youtube videos that I have no intention of trying because of some underlying self-consciousness that screams, “i could never make that at home.” The most perfect example of this was soufflé– the notoriously complicated and temperamental french dish that would leave experienced chefs shaking in their boots. Or so I thought. We’d finished dinner one night and I had a bit of a craving for something sweet as usual. I’d scoured my usual sources and there it was, staring at me: the Bon Appetit tutorial on chocolate soufflé done by Ms. Claire Saffitz herself. Being the true BA fan that I am, I’d seen the video multiple times but never with the intention of making it. And so I mustered as much courage as I could and gathered the ingredients determined not to fail. 

A soufflé is all about the eggs- it’s what gives it that almost magic rise and lends to that custardy interior. A good tip when separating eggs is to do so straight from the fridge then leave them out to come to room temperature. This is key as cold egg whites don’t whip up with as much volume as room temperature ones. I then took the ramekins and brushed them with melted butter. Claire says to brush in upward strokes to help encourage the soufflés to rise evenly- and damnit if Claire Saffitz tells me to do something, I’m going to do it. The greased ramekins then get sprinkled with sugar to give the souffles something to hold onto while they rise. We then turn our attention to the chocolate which gets melted over a double boiler along with some coffee and butter. There’s just something about coffee that really enhances the chocolate flavor in things- so don’t skip it! The yolks are introduced and set aside while we whip up our meringue. Once glossy and stiff, slowly fold the meringue into the chocolate mix in three additions by scraping along the edge of the bowl then cutting through the center. The key is to combine both mixtures without knocking out too much air. It’s then poured into the ramekins and flattened with a straight-edge to get that perfect top. Claire does this little trick of running a thumb around the lip of the ramekin to ensure this rises easily. The soufflés are then baked, leaving me with this wash of uncertainty as to whether or not they’ll turn out. It’s one of those desserts that must be eaten immediately- pretty much a “get your butt in the chair” kinda dessert. 

Now I’ve made a lot of things since I started baking, but these chocolate soufflés are arguably the most impressive things I’ve ever made. They came out nice and tall with beautiful flat tops just like you see in the movies. However these little guys don’t keep for long as they start to deflate the second they come out. Mine even lost about a half inch in the few seconds from taking them out of the oven to grabbing my phone. But how about the taste, you ask? They’re unbelievably creamy and light- it’s like eating a warm chocolate mousse with some crunchy sugar edges. She recommends eating them with creme anglaise, basically melted vanilla ice cream that’s poured into each souffle. I can see this going well with some sort of berry puree as well to really balance out that rich chocolate flavor. I can guarantee you that if you follow Claire’s wisdom, you too can get a rise out of your soufflés. 

Full Recipe | Method by Claire Saffitz of Bon Appetit:

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