Chocolate soufflé is like those tight, low-cut dresses -- it's the cheapest trick in the food porn book. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll agree that it's out of character for me. Who can't get people to drool over this short black skirt in a ramekin? But just like with the ballroom dance competition, I have a good excuse. I am testing recipes for my Eggspertise class. After multiple requests from my students, I finally decided to offer an egg class. And what egg class would be complete without a soufflé?
I got attracted to the chocolate soufflé because of its practicality. You can make it the day before and keep it in the fridge until ready to bake. That's not the case with most soufflés. Oh sure, most soufflés will hold for an hour or two before baking. You can also make the base in advance, reducing the last minute work to beating and folding in the egg whites. Still, no matter how you twist or turn it, soufflés are a hassle right when you should be working on your entrées or entertaining your guests. I prefer desserts that don't need baby-sitting at or right before the dinner party and chocolate soufflé fit the bill.
I used the recipe from the 1997 edition of Joy of Cooking with a very minor modification. I used 7 oz of chocolate instead of 8 because my favorite chocolate (Valrhona with 70% cocoa content is sold in 3.5 oz bars, and I didn't feel like buying an extra bar for 1 oz). No harm done -- the soufflé was extremely chocolaty.
Individual Chocolate Soufflés
Serves 8 (can easily be halved to serve 4)
Step 1: Mis en place (that's the cooking term for "getting organized")
- Wash a large mixer bowl (see the savory soufflé post for washing instructions).
- Go through all the steps to figure out what ingredients you'll need and measure them.
- This is a good time to get the eggs out of the fridge and to separate them (see the savory soufflé post for egg separating instruction). Collect all the yolks in one small bowl and all the whites in the large mixer bowl. Keep them at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- eight 7-8 oz ramekins with straight sides
- granulated sugar
Step 3: Making the base
- 7 oz chocolate with 65-75% cocoa content
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp rum, coffee, or water (I used coffee)
- 6 large egg yolks
- Place the chocolate, butter, and rum (coffee or water) in a large heat proof bowl. Set the bowl in a skillet of hot, but not simmering water, and whisk the chocolate until the mixture is smooth.
- Remove the bowl from the skillet and let cool for 10 minutes.
- Whisk in the egg yolks.
- 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
- Heaping 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Beat the whites in an electric mixer with the whisk attachment on low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, increase the speed to high. Beat until the peaks are stiff, but not dry. Do not over beat or the whites will become clumpy.
- Use a rubber spatula to fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate base. Then fold in the rest of the whites. Folding is not stirring! Here is a video on how to fold in the whites correctly. The reason you don't add the whites all at once is to lighten the base first and make the consistencies of the base and the whites more compatible.
Divide the chocolate mixture evenly between ramekins. Tap them gently on the table and smooth the top with the flat of a knife.
Ahead-of-time note: If you are not ready to put the soufflés in the oven immediately, they can wait in a warm, draft-free place, covered with an inverted large bowl or pot for up to 1 hour. Alternatively, you can cover ramekins with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Note that if the soufflés are refrigerated before baking, the baking time will be longer.
Place the ramekins on a baking dish. Place the baking dish with ramekins in the middle of the oven. Don't open the oven door for at least 15 minutes. Bake until the soufflés puff up and form a top crust , 17-20 minutes (20-25 minutes if refrigerated). Err on the side of undercooking as these soufflés are best with a creamy center. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
Liquid center variation:
To satisfy truly obsessive chocoholics, push a dark chocolate truffle into the center of each soufflé right after pouring the mixture into the ramekins. I made truffles for my soufflés with my friend's Cory Clark's Shootflying Hill Dark Chocolate Sauce by refrigerating the sauce and rolling it into balls. Would make an outrageous Valentine's Day dessert! Too bad I am writing about it in August. But hey, it's never to early to polish up on your soufflé technique.
If you want to learn more about soufflés, I highly recommend Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and the 1997 edition of the Joy of Cooking.