kitchen firsts: mexican chocolate souffles (for two!)
This kitchen first is one that I have had on the docket (as in, ingredients purchased and ready to go, recipe picked out, no reason not to make it) for several weeks now, and indeed have been more loosely planning on making since before the new year. Given souffles’ reputation for difficulty, and having never made one before (or even eaten one, that I recall), I figured it was a natural choice for a kitchen first.
And yet somehow, the recipe just stayed on the docket for weeks, my extra carton of eggs taunting me from the fridge! It always seemed like too much work, and too many dishes, and in general, too high maintenance. Since you need to eat a souffle straight from the oven, a full 2 qt souffle for a two person household would be completely insurmountable, and most recipes that make individual souffles in ramekins still make at least 6 or 8 souffles (halving is generally difficult because of odd numbers of eggs). We planned on having people over to help us, but the moment was never right, so the souffles never came to be.
Then, thanks to Valentines Day, it finally occurred to me to google souffles for two, and lo and behold! A brilliant solution to all of the above-named holdups to the souffle making process. And so they finally came to be.
I went into this hoping to prove that souffles were actually super easy and low maintenance. The first night I made them, I was rather disappointed. I picked a bad recipe and didn’t really have any confidence, which made the whole process seem fussy. I used unnecessary dishes, and took a long time, and questioned everything I was doing. And when they came out, I thought they tasted ok, but I didn’t really get what the big fuss was about. It was really chocolaty, and yes, fluffier than your average cake, but nothing to shout about.
As I considered the souffle experience today, it occurred to me that as a souffle virgin I might not have really realized what it was supposed to taste like, and hence I couldn’t really evaluate whether the recipe had been good or not. So I did some more research and tried a better sounding recipe, and oh my god! So pillowy and chocolaty and fluffy! Like a sexy little chocolate cloud.
If you are a straight up unadulterated semisweet chocolate lover, this recipe will more than feed your craving for chocolate. But if you, like me, like to temper your chocolate with other flavors, then you may want to balance the chocolate flavor with a little something extra for garnish–you could serve them with vanilla ice cream, or a raspberry sauce, or a dollop of whipped cream, or, if you’re fancy, perhaps a white chocolate mint cream (if you’re going in a minty or fruity direction, you’ll want to omit the cinnamon and you could replace it with something else like peppermint extract!). We wanted to play up the mexican chocolate aspect of this souffle, so we served ours with a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream which was a delicious accompaniment.
So, the moral of the story? There is no reason to fear the souffle! It is not too hard, even for a novice! You do have to time it a little more carefully than some desserts, because you need to eat them straight from the oven or they will sink (this doesn’t make you a bad souffle maker, it is just what happens), but the end result is totally worth the extra work. Have you had souffles much?
Mexican Chocolate Souffles
Adapted from Real Simple
A smidge of soft butter, to coat ramekins
1 tsp granulated sugar or 1 tsp cocoa per ramekin (the sugar gives it a sweet little crisp crust, the cocoa sort of blends in for a smoother chocolate consistency– pick what sounds better or try using a cocoa-sugar combination, or use cinnamon sugar!)
3 oz of your favorite semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
2 T butter
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon (you can omit this if you want to take your souffle in a plain chocolate, minty or fruity direction)
2 T granulated sugar
Optional finishes: powdered sugar, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream of your choice (our recipe follows), raspberries or raspberry sauce, or caramel sauce (if you are going in one of these non-mexican directions you may want to omit the cinnamon in the souffles)
Start by greasing two 10 oz ramekins with a little butter, then add 1 tsp granulated sugar or cocoa powder to each ramekin and tap it around to coat the butter. Dump out excess and preheat your oven to 375.
In a smallish microwavable bowl or double boiler, melt your chocolate and 2 T butter until smooth. Add 1/4 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp cinnamon and stir to combine. Then add egg yolks and stir until uniform and shiny.
In another small to medium bowl, beat your egg whites, pinch of salt, and sugar with an electric mixer until glossy stiff peaks form.
Fold half of your egg whites into the chocolate mixture until smooth. Then move all of this mixture back into the egg white bowl, and gently fold until no white ribbons remain.
Transfer mixture to prepared souffle dishes, put on a baking sheet, and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until top is puffed and set, and slightly firm to the touch. Garnish and serve immediately.
Cinnamon Whipped Cream
Improvised to serve 2
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp vanilla
1 T sugar
Combine and beat with an electric mixer until it reaches the desired consistency.