My childhood friend, Gigi, taught me how to make chocolate soufflés when I was ten years old. Her grandmother had taken her mother and her to the Hotel Crillon where she tasted soufflé for the first time. On her own, she took her mother’s Gourmet cookbook and practiced making the dessert… After school we use to make this for snack time instead of brownies. My parents were so pleasantly surprised by such a windfall that they asked Gigi to translate the recipe from English to French. For the butter quantity, she drew a French stick which is twice as large as an American one, then she drew a dotted line at almost the half line and wrote “ça de beurre”!! Now 53 years later Gigi came to visit us and made a soufflé with Whitney and me in our kitchen in Columbus. It tasted just as wonderful as the first time. How wonderful for Whitney to have baked one with my childhood friend, Gigi.
Over time, you will become more self assured and you will treat the whole procedure with a lot less apprehension. I tend to blend rather than “fold” he egg white. I once took a cooking course taught by Jacques Pepin’s mother. Madame Pepin taught no nonsense cooking but with a good sense of humor. For dessert she made a soufflé. When she started to blend with great vigor the stiff egg whites into the appareil, one student was dismayed. She exclaimed that Jacques Pepin said to fold not blend. Madame Pepin answered with a great humor that, after all whom do you think taught Jacques to cook?
Soufflé au Chocolat
For the soufflé:
8oz. Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate or 1 pack + 2 sticks of Menier chocolate
1 C sugar (amount was reduced from 1½ C on April 2004)
1 stick butter
10 egg whites (large eggs)
5 egg yolks
1tsp vanilla extract
For whipped cream:
1 pint whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 400°. Butter 2 soufflé dishes and dust them liberally with powdered sugar. The sides should be buttered and dusted too so that the soufflés can literally grip on to the sides to rise!
In a large sauce pan, on medium low heat, melt butter with the sugar and add the chocolate Technically, you should melt the chocolate in a double boiler; however you can skip that process IF YOU ARE VERY CAREFUL. Never melt the chocolate in the microwave much harder to control the temperature. When the mixture is homogeneous and the sugar completely melted, add flour. Blend for a minute and pour milk in gradually. Cook on low heat while stirring constantly until thickens. Take off burner to cool. This chocolate mixture is called “un appareil a soufflé” literally a soufflé machine.
Beat yolks until lemony color, add 1T vanilla. Set aside.
In a copper bowl, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt. The egg white should be stiff but do not over beat because over beaten egg whites are impossible to incorporate in the batter.
Spoon some of the chocolate mixture into the yolks and stir well. This step prevents the yolk from cooking when it comes into contact with the hot chocolate. Blend the rest of the yolks into chocolate mixture.
Fold one spoonful of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and blend delicately. This step “lightens” the dense chocolate mixture. Gradually fold the rest of the egg whites into the “appareil” or chocolate mixture.
Pour the appareil into the prepared molds by filling to ¾” from the top rim. Run your thumb around the inside edge of the mold to help it to rise. By trial and error, you will be able to tell whether or not your soufflé requires a collar. Most chocolate soufflés do not require a collar. The appareil is so dense that it is hard for this kind of soufflé to rise like a Grand Marnier or fruit souffle.
To make a collar, cut a piece of heavy duty tin foil that is a bit longer than the circumference of your mold. Fold the tinfoil in half lengthwise. Butter the top half of the tin foil and wrap it around the soufflé dish after you have pour in the appareil.
Bake 30 minutes. Sometimes you can force a soufflé to rise by making a circular cut into it at about an inch from the edge. Do this after it has been in the oven 10 to 15 minutes.
The appareil can be left standing in the soufflé dish for 1-2 hours, do not refrigerate. When ready to bake, place in a 350° oven for 30 minutes and then increase the temperature to 400° and bake another 10 minutes. This method is certainly acceptable but the soufflés do not rise as well.
While the soufflés are baking, beat the whipping cream until it starts to thicken, add 1T vanilla extract, and powdered sugar to taste. Keep beating until it attains the desired consistency. BE ALERT the whipping cream can very rapidly turn to butter. Spoon half of the cream into a serving bowl, add 1T to 2T grand Marnier into the rest of the cream and mix gently. Spoon the grand Marnier cream into another serving bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
By the time that you have stored away the whipping cream, the soufflé should be ready. Open the oven door, jiggle the oven rack GENTLY. The center of the soufflé should sway a little bit. Take them out, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve IMMEDIATELY.
Each portion that you serve should have some of the crust and some of the runny center. Offer a choice of Plain or Grand Marnier whipping cream.