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.

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