By Carol Traulsen
Souffle`s are feared by culinary professionals. It takes and a certain amount of skill to produce an airy, cloud-like souffle`. Loosely translated, souffle` means to blow-up! Souffle`s are egg whites whipped into stiff peaks and added to either sweet or savory ingredients. The beaten egg whites puff up in the oven and begin to deflate almost immediately after it’s removed from the oven. There are even eateries that make nothing but souffle`s. There’s much debate about the kind of bowl that should be used to beat the egg whites. Should it be copper? It’s said a copper bowl yields the best results or even a cold glass bowl or stainless steel also yield good results.
Even knowing how hard this could be: I’ve decided to make a chocolate souffle`. I don’t have a copper bowl so glass or stainless steel will do. Even if it deflates how bad can it be if it has chocolate in it?
After some research I settled on a recipe that seems pretty straight forward, even easy. But if that were really the case why does it have a reputation of being hard to master? I was about to find out. Here’s the recipe:
2 tsp butter
4 oz of semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 seedless strawberry jam (I used a sugar-free one)
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
4 egg whites
1) Grease the sides and the bottom of 4 ramekins or 4 one cup size stainless stain measuring cups with butter. Lightly coat the bottom and sides with sugar shaking off excess.
2) Microwave chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl at medium power (50 %) for 1 ½ minutes, stirring at 30 second intervals until melted. Stir in vanilla. Set aside.
Beat egg whites at high speed with electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Stir about one third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites. Spoon evenly into ramekins or cups if you are using separate containers, otherwise gently pour into prepared container. Run your thumb around the edge of the container making sure it’s clean and to make an indent around the outside edge of the egg mixture.
3) Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, until the souffle` begins to brown on top.
I placed it in the oven and fretted for 18 minutes, afraid to turn the light on for fear it wasn’t puffing up. When I it took it out it wasn’t perfect. I should have messed with the egg whites a little less when I was placing it in the container. I only used four egg whites and the container was large so I tried to put the mixture in the center of the dish. I didn’t have a souffle` pan. I was tempted to use a set of four earthenware ramekins that hand handles. I was concerned that they weren’t deep enough or oven-proof. (Maybe I should invest in some souffle` ramekins.) The egg whites and the chocolate aren’t mixed together as smoothly as I would like. I was too mindful of overworking the egg whites and causing them to deflate that the chocolate and egg whites weren’t mixed uniformly all the way through. As you can see from the pan I didn’t wipe the sides, so it’s not neat. Again, I was afraid of the egg whites sitting too long and deflating. Would I try it again? Sure! And next time it’ll be better. We can’t learn if we let fear keep us from trying. It may not have been perfect, but for eating purposes it was close enough. Light fluffy and delicious! What’s the lesson? It’s just food, don’t be afraid.