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!
Bittersweet Chocolate SouffleServes 2-4
1/3 cup sugar plus additional for sprinkling
5 oz bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
3 large egg yolks at room temperature
6 large egg whites
Special equipment: a 5 1/2- to 6-cup glass or ceramic soufflé dish
Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously butter soufflé dish and sprinkle with sugar, knocking out excess. (Put the dish in the freezer to harden the butter while you prepare the batter. The butter keeps the souffle from sticking and the sugar creates a rough surface for the batter to climb up.)
Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and stir in yolks (mixture will stiffen). (The chocolate will seize and look lumpy and curdled. It's supposed to!)
Beat whites with a pinch of salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. (Make sure the bowl is very clean and dry. Start with room temperature egg whites. Start beating slowly until the whites are foamy, and then increase the speed until peaks form.) Add 1/3 cup sugar, a little at a time, continuing to beat at medium speed, then beat at high speed until whites just hold stiff peaks. Stir about 1 cup whites into chocolate mixture to lighten (you can use a whisk and beat it quite vigorously to get rid of the lumps in the chocolate), then add mixture to remaining whites, folding gently but thoroughly.
Spoon into soufflé dish and run the end of your thumb around inside edge of soufflé dish (this will help soufflé rise evenly). (This is where you would run a knife around the perimeter of the batter, about 1 inch deep, to create the top hat. It didn't work for me in this recipe.) Bake in middle of oven until puffed and crusted on top but still jiggly in center, 24 to 26 minutes. Serve immediately.
Note: Soufflé can be assembled up to 30 minutes before baking. Keep, covered with an inverted large bowl (do not let bowl touch soufflé), at room temperature.
Recipe source: Epicurious