Sweet Souffle, Savory Souffle


Okay, first things first. I know that “souffle” should actually be “soufflé”, but I can’t be bothered to type out “é” every single time I write souffle, so it will be souffle all the way down. Feel free to pronounce it “sooh-ffull” instead of “sew-flay” if you like.

Souffle is a kind of fluffy puffy egg custard dish. Fluffy and puffy, kind of like how you would become if you ate too many souffles. Many recipes I researched began with the caveat “souffles are known for how difficult they are to make, but actually, they’re easy!” That’s true to some extent. I failed in souffle making twice before I finally got it down. Once it was down, it’s fairly easy. As with all tricky dishes, there are a few key details that you should pay attention to, but as long as those details are taken care of, everything else is fairly forgiving.

Also, if this is your first time making souffles, I recommend that you try the chocolate recipe first. It is simpler, uses less ingredients, and will save you extra frustration if you need to try the recipe multiple times.

Before you begin, you WILL need an electric mixer (hand held is fine), and a few straight-walled ramekins. The recipes are made for 6 oz ramekins.

Case I: Chocolate Souffle

Thanks to practice, I no longer have trouble

Thanks to practice, I no longer have trouble “getting it up” when I need to.

Adapted from “The Joy of Cooking” cookbook
Cook & Prep Time: 30 minutes
Serves 3
Ingredients:

2 fresh eggs
3 oz semi/bitter-sweet chocolate
3 tbs butter + more for buttering ramekins
1 tbsp rum, coffee, or water
2 tbs sugar + 2 tbs sugar*
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

*If you have castor sugar (ultrafine) or powdered sugar, use that instead. Granulated sugar will also work. More details below on the practical differences.

Cooking

Begin by separating the yolk from the whites of the eggs. Keep each in their own separate container. You will need both but at different times. Heat a medium to large-sized pan or pot of water to just below simmer. You want the water to be hot, but not simmering. Preheat your oven to 375F (190C).

Try doing this with a human period, huh? Chickens are clearly superior in this aspect.

Try doing this with a human period, huh? Chickens are clearly superior in this aspect.

Combine the three tablespoons of butter, rum, and chocolate in a small bowl. Hold the bowl over the hot water and whisk until everything is silky and combined. Try not to let the bowl touch the water. Once everything is melted and combined, set the chocolate aside to cool for ten minutes.

COVER YOUR EYES CHILDREN! THIS ISN'T WHAT FOOD SHOULD LOOK LIKE!

COVER YOUR EYES CHILDREN! THIS ISN’T WHAT FOOD SHOULD LOOK LIKE!

Bring your bowl of egg whites over the hot water for a minute or two, swirling the contents so as to not cook the whites. You want to sort of bring the whites to room temperature-ish before beating it. When the chocolate has been cooling for 5 minutes, start beating your egg whites. Beat it on medium until it is foamy. Add the cream of tartar. Beat until soft peaks, and then slowly drizzle in your sugar. The less fine your sugar, the slower you should drizzle it. If you have granulated sugar, you want to add the two tablespoons over the course of an entire minute so as not to kill the foam. You are basically making a meringue, which forms the foamy structure of the souffle.

Like light, puffy, sweet clouds, with a small chance of salmonella.

Like light, puffy, sweet clouds, with a small chance of salmonella.

Continue to beat your meringue on medium until it has formed stiff (but not dry) peaks. Use a rubber spatula to move 1/3 of this meringue mixture into the container with melted chocolate and stir to combine. Dump the chocolate/meringue mixture back into the bulk of the meringue and fold everything together, being gentle so as not to kill all the air bubbles that were beaten into the egg whites. Brush the insides of the ramekins thoroughly with softened butter and dust the insides with sugar (again, castor sugar is preferred, but granulated is fine). Fill each ramekin to the brim with the chocolate mixture and swipe off any excess with a straight-edged utensil. Run your thumb along the inside rim of the souffle to carve out a shallow valley around the edge; this will allow your souffle to rise straight up (credit to Gordon Ramsay for this method). Bake for 10 minutes.

It's brown mesa, Black Mesa's edible and less dangerous cousin.

It’s brown mesa, Black Mesa’s edible and less dangerous cousin.

Top with chocolate shavings and/or whipped cream if available. Serve immediately. Souffles do not keep and will deflate very quickly after cooking, so plan accordingly.

Case II: Spinach, Shrimp, and Gruyere Souffle

They call me puff daddy.

They call me puff daddy.

Prep & Cook time: 45 min
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 fresh eggs
1.5 tbs all-purpose flour
1.5 tbs butter, plus more for brushing
3/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
salt
3-4 medium-sized shrimp
1 cup raw spinach, packed
4 tbs gruyere cheese, grated*
2 tbsp cooking oil
3 tablespoons bread crumbs

*Yeah yeah it’s “gruyère” I know.

Cooking

The process begins a lot like the sweet souffle: separate your egg whites and yolks and reserve both. Place your butter into a small pot over medium-low heat. Melt the butter, taking care not to let it brown. Add your flour.

This is like, food porn as in the food version of porn that features your grandma. Just a friendly reminder that not all porn is created equal.

This is like, food porn as in the food version of porn that features your grandma. Just a friendly reminder that not all porn is created equal.

Generally speaking, most savory souffles follow a very simple guideline: cheese and egg yolks are stirred into a bechamel sauce which is in turn combined with a meringue along with whatever solid food objects, which is then baked in a similar fashion as a sweet souffle.

Cook the flour and butter for a while, being careful not to let it brown. If anything starts to turn brown or yellow, turn the heat down and remove the mixture from heat temporarily to cool it down. After a few minutes, slowly whisk in the milk. Let cook for 3-4 more minutes until the mixture thickens. Add nutmeg and white pepper, set aside to cool for about ten minutes.

If we use the Louis C.K. analogy of the Cinnabon being the

If we use the Louis C.K. analogy of the Cinnabon being the “fat faggot treat“, this would be the hot cum.

Heat another saute pan on high heat. Add your cooking oil. When the oil begins to smoke, saute your spinach until cooked, about a minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Add your shrimp (chopped into tiny pieces beforehand) and saute until just cooked, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Pre-heat your oven to 350F (176C).

When the spinach is sufficiently cooled to handle, squeeze the juice out of it and chop into small pieces. Set aside. Now, take out your gruyere and either grate or finely chop 4 tablespoons. Add both the cheese and the egg yolks to the bechamel while stirring rapidly. The stirring will help ensure your egg yolk does not cook upon touching the bechamel. Stir until the cheese is melted.

Do you see that fucking pricetag? Ugh. Real imported gruyere. I spent like 5 minutes just standing in front of the cheese section thinking about it before buying the smallest block I could find. Traumatized for life.

Do you see that fucking pricetag? Ugh. Real imported gruyere. I spent like 5 minutes just standing in front of the cheese section thinking about it before buying the smallest block I could find. Traumatized for life.

Now start beating the egg whites for the meringue. This time, add nothing except a pinch of salt once the meringue has reached soft peaks. Beat until stiff. Add 1/4 of this mixture to the bechamel. Mix to incorporate. Then, dump the bechamel back into the meringue along with the spinach and shrimp. Fold to incorporate. Brush the inside of two ramekins with softened butter and dust with bread crumbs.

You can also use grated parmesan. I don't have parmesan.

You can also use grated parmesan. I don’t have parmesan.

Pour the batter in, swipe the excess off the top with a flat utensil, and make a valley around the rim with your thumb as per the sweet souffle. Bake for about 18 minutes, until souffle has risen and is golden brown on the top. Top with shaved cheese and serve immediately.

Eat too many of these and you might souffle off your mortal coil.

Eat too many of these and you might souffle off your mortal coil.

Conclusion
Before I started this project, I remember thinking “who in the world would ever make a savory souffle? Well, in reality the savory souffle is just as good (if not better!) than the sweet souffle. It is warm, rich, creamy, and the light texture completely masks how heavy the dish actually is until you realize that you are suddenly full from having eaten such a small dish. A master stroke dish that is perfect as the first course of a three course meal.

Advertisements

Bootleg Snickers


Bootleg? That’s right, but not illegal. The thing about food is that there isn’t really such thing as piracy. In fact, people (even chefs of famous restaurants) actually share many of their recipes with the world, and you can freely recreate the exact dish provided the resources and skill. Of course, not all recipes are shared, especially branded mass-marketed foods such as Snickers. The recipes for these types of food (and others like it such as Coca Cola) are very closely guarded secrets. That’s where some unscrupulous (and Chinese) bastard such as myself comes into the picture. This isn’t an exact recipe for Snickers per se, but a close approximation that is good and easy to make to boot.

Ingredients

Unfortunately my recipe doesn't include exotic ingredients such as calcium benzoate or xanthene gum or whatever the fuck the real Snickers has. Feel free to add it on your own time though.

Unfortunately my recipe doesn’t include exotic ingredients such as calcium benzoate or xanthene gum or whatever the fuck the real Snickers has. Feel free to add it on your own time though.

Prep and Wait time: 2 hrs
Serves Many

You will also need: two pots, one of them NOT non-stick, a wooden spoon or chopsticks, a sheet pan, parchment paper.

1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
2 cups (1 12 oz bag) semi-sweet chocolate
1 12 oz can of roasted peanuts
2 tbsp vegetable shortening (not shown in pic)*
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cream
3 tbsp water

*Vegetable shortening only. Do not replace with any other type of oil such as butter or lard or vegetable oil.

Assembly

If you have read any of my other blogs, you’ve probably seen me make caramel a couple of times. Well, here it is again! There’s a new trick this time though, if your sugar is dry and clumped together like mine is. Dump the sugar along with the lumps into your pot, and add just enough water to break up the lumps over medium heat. This will allow you to break all the sugar down into a homogenous mixture.

If you dip your peanuts in now all you'll get is a hot sticky mess. Wait... let's try that one again. Basically, you want to hold off on the peanuts.

If you dip your peanuts in now all you’ll get is a hot sticky mess. Wait… let’s try that one again. Basically, you want to hold off on the peanuts.

Bring the sugar to a boil and boil it down. Eventually it will be come transparent, and then start to brown. As the sugar boils, prepare another small pot and bring your cream to a simmer. You will eventually pour the cream into the sugar, and since the sugar is extremely hot, you want the cream to be hot also to avoid crystallizing the sugar instantly.

That sugar, it just caramelts in the pot. But don't try to taste it, or it will caramelt through your mouth and burn a hole in your tongue.

That sugar, it just caramelts in the pot. But don’t try to taste it, or it will caramelt through your mouth and burn a hole in your tongue.

If your caramel is darkening too quickly, take it off the heat to slow the cooking. Add salt and vanilla to the caramel at this time. Once the caramel has reached a deep amber, take it off the heat. Hold the small pot of cream in one hand and a wooden utensil in the other hand (I used chopsticks). Stir the caramel in a circle vigorously while pouring the cream into the caramel. Be sure to keep your hand to the side as you stir, as the steam rising out of the pot of caramel is VERY hot. You should end with a creamy looking caramel.

Now, dump your entire package of peanuts into the caramel. Mix. Prepare a sheet man lined with parchment paper. Pour the caramel/peanut mixture into the sheet pan. Stick the sheet pan somewhere cool, such as the refrigerator or the freezer, for at least an hour (an hour in the freezer, longer in the refrigerator).

This is actually quite good as is. It's like a Snickers bar if you licked the chocolate and caramel off first.

This is actually quite good as is. It’s like a Snickers bar if you licked the chocolate and caramel off first.

Once the peanuts are cooled, dump the entire thing onto a cutting board and peel off the parchment paper. Reserve the sheet tray and parchment paper, you will need it later. Cut the peanuts into bite-sized pieces, or however large you would like the pieces to be.

Prepare your chocolate by placing 4/5ths of it into a microwave-safe bowl along with the vegetable shortening. Microwave on high at 30 second intervals for about 2 minutes total to melt the chocolate. Stir. The shortening thins the chocolate out a bit, allowing you to get a thinner coating on your peanuts.

If you're one of those poor bastards allergic to peanuts and/or chocolate, read on, there is something for you at the end! But you are still a bastard.

If you’re one of those poor bastards allergic to peanuts and/or chocolate, read on, there is something for you at the end! But you are still a bastard.

When your chocolate is smooth and melted, stir in the remaining, unmelted chocolate. This allows you to “temper” the chocolate a bit so that when it resolidifies it will melt at a much lower temperature than it would otherwise. Ideally, professional candy makers would keep melted chocolate between 88-89F for optimal tempering, but that is extremely difficult to do at home. This substitute method is not as good, but easily executed at home.

Turds.

Turds.

Now, dip your cold candy pieces into the warm chocolate with your fingers, wiping off excess chocolate, This is a bit difficult because the candied peanuts soften in the warm chocolate, but you should be able to persevere. Once all the pieces are coated and on the sheet tray again, cool them for a second time for about half an hour in the freezer, or longer in the refrigerator. Then, store in a container for future consumption.

How do these taste? I actually made them a while ago, so it's all a blur.

How do these taste? I actually made them a while ago, so it’s all a blur.

The End…..?

Extra Stuff: Blueberry Vodka

These blueberries weren't eaten, but they were still in high spirits nonetheless.

These blueberries weren’t eaten, but they were still in high spirits nonetheless.

What? Two recipes for the price of one? Unheard of! Who does this kind of shit? Anywho, blueberries were on sale a few weeks ago, and what better to do with blueberries than to infuse a bottle of vodka? Here’s what you will need:

1 750 ml of decent quality vodka
2 cups blueberries

First, pour about 1/3 of the bottle of vodka out. Use that however you like. Then, make a small cut in each blueberry (yes, it’s tedious, but if you do it while drinking the vodka it’ll all pass quickly. You won’t even remember it in the morning). Deposit all of the nicked blueberries into the bottle, and store somewhere dark for two weeks. Shake the bottle vigorously at the end of the first week.

After two weeks, prepare a few coffee filters and filter the blueberries out of the vodka.

Thanks to the antioxidants in blueberries, it's bad for your liver but prevents cancer. So it's like chemotherapy in a bottle.

Thanks to the antioxidants in blueberries, it’s bad for your liver but prevents cancer. So it’s like chemotherapy in a bottle.

Pour the vodka back into the bottle (or down your gullet) and store in a cool place. Enjoy!

A gift for a friend.

A gift for a friend.

The Result

Here is finally a self-contained food blog: there is something to eat, and something to drink. Why, you could even call it a meal, if you’re still in your teens or are on a destructive path to gastronomic suicide. If the bootleg snickers are too complicated for you, at least try the vodka. It’s worth the wait. Hell, buy two bottles if you can’t wait. Drink one bottle while the other marinates.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Bars


Usually when people have a craving, it is for some food item that they have had before and wish to have again. It’s a weird thing, then, when you’ve been cooking for so long that you start to create recipes to satisfy cravings for food you’ve never actually had before.

This installment of TGC is about a recipe conceived in such a way. Light, crumbly butter cookies with the aroma of peanut butter, covered on one side with a layer of chocolate. Peanut butter chocolate cookie bars.

Ingredients

Butter cookie recipe partially adapted from here.

Sorry, didn't do a spread this time. Have a picture of a butter sculpture of Marilyn Monroe.

Cookie:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
7 oz butter/margarine*
4 tbsp peanut butter (creamy preferred, I used crunchy)
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk

Chocolate Layer:
3/4 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
3 tbsp butter/margarine

You will also need a baking sheet and parchment paper.

*The original recipe calls for 8 ounces, but since we’re using peanut butter and peanut butter also has oil, use 7 ounces. Soften the butter/margarine at room temperature for at least half an hour before use.

Baking is (almost) a science. Try to use exact amounts for the recipe to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Part Cookie

Diabetes ain't gonna just suddenly show up in your body. You gotta earn it.

First combine the softened butter, salt, vanilla extract, and sugar in a container. Either mix with a mixer or mash with a spoon. I mashed the ingredients together in a pot over very low heat for a short period of time to expedite the slight melting of butter. Do not completely melt the butter! The end result should have a very soft consistency and be almost fluffy, like this:

Don't worry about the fat. It's actually the calcium in butter that's making you big-boned.

Mix in the peanut butter until smooth, then mix in the egg yolk until smooth. Slowly add the 2 cups of flour roughly 1/3 cup at a time, stirring to incorporate thoroughly each time. You may need two spoons to help you do this efficiently.

Paying tribute to the one true Spoon Terran.

When all the flour has been incorporated, dump the dough onto a lightly-floured surface. Knead the dough a few times to get it to a smooth consistency. On the side, prepare a baking sheet (optimally probably something like a 9×12 sheet), lined with parchment paper. I only had this fucking 12×18 sheet or w/e, so I kind of improvised.

What you want to do is spread the dough out using hands/rolling pin/whatever to approximately 1/4 inch thick. For me, I rolled the dough out against one side of the baking sheet and rolled it out towards the other side.

This is where the "ghetto" part comes in.

Stick your sheet of cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least two hours to let it chill. When you are ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 325 F (163 C). If you’re using some kind of ghetto-assed too-large baking sheet like I am, center your cookie dough on the sheet so that the edges can expand during the baking process. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until the edges start to turn golden.

In case of food fight, apply cookie directly to forehead

Now the cookie part is done! Let the cookie sheet cool while you begin work on the chocolate part.

Part Chocolate

Here’s where things become more about guesswork. I have never worked with melted chocolate before. The following walkthrough is how I personally did it, and it is very likely not the best way of doing it. If someone knows the proper way to spread chocolate so that it ends up with a smooth surface after cooling, please let me know.

Fill a large pot with about an inch of water, and bring water to a boil. In another, small pot with a long handle, place your chocolate and butter. Lower the smaller pot over the boiling water and stir to melt the chocolate. This is where the long handle comes it, so you can safely hold the small pot as you stir its contents. Sorry, no photos were taken at this stage since I was afraid I’d burn the chocolate. Anyhow, melt the chocolate until it is somewhat smooth looking. Pour melted chocolate over your cookie and spread in a thin layer that covers the entire cookie.

Like a piece of wood freshly lifted out of shit creek, to use the most unappetizing description possible

YOU ARE ALMOST DONE!!! Let the cookie and chocolate cool for about 30-45 minutes. Lightly touch the chocolate with your fingertips. If it feels cool and no chocolate sticks to your fingers, grab a sharp knife and slice the cookie into bars. You should try to do the slicing before the chocolate and the cookie completely hardens to reduce risk of fracturing the cookie.

Refrigerate for a couple of hours before enjoying with a glass of milk, or a scoop of your favorite ice cream.

Upper right corner sacrificed in the name of gastronomic science

Result

I love it when a plan comes together

4.9 / 5 Usually when I try out a recipe for the first time, self-invented or otherwise, the failure rate is rather high. There is always one or two little things that could be improved. I pretty much suck. But this time for whatever reason, a complex, never tried before recipe came together rather well on the first attempt. Fucking unprecedented! Nonetheless, there is still room for improvement. If someone can tell me how to work with chocolate so that it spreads easily and comes out with a smooth surface, I’d appreciate it.

Closing Thoughts

There are, IMO, really only two legitimate reasons for overindulgence. One is meat, the other is through decadent pastries and desserts. By sharing this recipe, I hope I will have at least partially satisfied the latter reason for you. T’is the season to eat whatever the fuck you want, since you’re wearing so much clothing that no one can tell anyways 🙂
Until next time, don’t get hit by a bus. And have a happy Christmas.