Bittersweet Chocolate Soufflé

While fluffy, warm and completely delicious, soufflé has an unfortunate reputation of being extremely temperamental to prepare. It's probably because of the perceived fragility of the egg whites-- one errant puff of wind and the dessert could deflate like a sad balloon. Admittedly, I do find French desserts to be pretty finicky. For instance, I have yet to master macarons or croissants. Soufflés aren't so bad though, especially if you keep a few tips and tricks in mind. Notes are in the recipe below!

This recipe makes a tasty soufflé that is chocolatey without being too sweet. Even better, the batter can hold up for 30 minutes between preparation and baking though I have not tested this. This stability is a good thing, since you will want to serve it immediately out of the oven before it falls flat. Soufflé photography is kind of stressful; the first image was taken about 20 seconds out of the oven. A minute later, it looked like this:

It inevitably sinks before your eyes. At this point, there's nothing left to do but dig in...

The soufflé was light and airy with a soft center and thin, crisp crust. There's still some room for improvement though. For one, I'd prefer the top to be less cracked. I also wanted to get the "top hat" effect, created by running a knife around the perimeter of the ramekin before baking. The cut obviously did not stay while baking since my souffle came out looking more "helmet" than "top hat", but I'll blame the recipe for that. Shh. I guess this means there are more soufflés to bake (and eat) in my future. What a pain.

Recipe after the jump!


Sticky Five Spice Ribs with Lemongrass Rice

This is a pretty foolproof method to make delicious ribs and all you need is an oven. Aaand a little patience. They are first braised in a flavourful liquid for fall-off-the-bone tenderness, then finished at high heat until they are burnished with sticky glaze. They won't have the smoky grilled flavour that rib aficionados may demand, but I think they're great as they are.

I've made (faux) barbeque ribs using this method, but was in the mood for something different this time around. I'm not sure how five spice ribs came into existence, but it just seems to work well with the pork. Chinese five spice powder is typically a combination of anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, and szechuan peppercorn, lending a spicy, warm woodsiness to whatever it seasons. (That just sounded like a perfume description, didn't it?) 

I served these with some lemongrass jasmine rice. This involves tossing a lemongrass stalk, bruised with a few whacks of a cleaver, in with the rice while it cooks. That's it. Just remember to remove the stalk before serving!

Recipe after the jump...