Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Julia Child's Chocolate Souffle
Ryan and I get the itch to make an epic meal every now and then. Christmas Eve seemed the perfect excuse for just such a cooking feat. We started with appetizers- stuffed mushrooms, then moved on to a delish entree, pasta with mushroom and white wine and butter sauce- and of course, for the finale, decided to attempt the piece de resistance, chocolate souffle!
Now I love to bake, so souffle seemed a challenge, but nothing beyond the pale. I will caution, however, that the dishes are not few, and the time and effort is intense. But the end product? Does it RISE to the occasion? Well... see for yourself!
Chocolate Souffle: A recipe from the one and only Julia Child herself!
To coat the souffle dish:
butter, softened but NOT melted
For the chocolate flavoring:
7 oz. Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
1/3 cup strong coffee or espresso
For the base:
1.3 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
3 tbsp butter softened, not melted
1 tbsp vanilla
For the whites:
6 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1. Prepare the souffle dish by generously coating it with soft butter and sprinkling in sugar. Tip the souffle dish to coat the entire inner surface with the sugar, and tap out any excess.
2. Place the rack in your oven to the lowest third and preheat to 425 degrees.
3. In a small saucepan, melt 7 ounces of semi-sweet baking chocolate with 1/3 cup of coffee.
4. In a separate, larger saucepan, heat up 1 cup milk and whisk in the flour, blending well. Slowly add in the rest of the milk and 1/3 cup of sugar. Bring to a slow boil and whisk for 2 min. Remove from heat.
5. Beat in 3 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp vanilla, a pinch of salt, 4 egg yolks, and the melted chocolate mixture.
6. Whip the 6 egg whites to stiff peaks. Add in 1/2 cup sugar once they are foamy.
Now, let's talk seriously about this "whip to stiff but not dry peaks' business. It is a terrifying instruction in any recipe, wrought with problems and causing of much angst, but no worries, it can be done!! Here's how:
In a large bowl, the best is of copper, (if you have that kind of fancy stuff lying around), but I use ceramic or pyrex- have the 6 egg whites reserved and ready to whip.
A. Start with room temperature eggs.
B. Use a long-handled whisk and any bowl, so long as it is not aluminum or plastic. The eggs react best with copper, but poorly if there is any grease in the bowl or on the mixing elements, so clean everything well.
C. MAke sure the bowl is significantly larger than the eggs you start with, as they will gain volume as you whip them.
D. It would take approximately 900 strokes- or a little over 6 minutes- to whip 6 egg whites by hand. Trust me, the first 100 feel fine. It's the next 800 that will suck. Also, in the beginning, you can be slow and relaxed- until it's foamy, but to finish the job, you are going to have to get some seriously fast whipping on, and for a sustained period of time. *Insert pervy joke here* Remember, once you start, you cannot stop.
E. Here's what we did: We started off by hand, and then once they were foamy (see photo), I switched to my magic wand cuisinart stick using a whisk attachment*. This was THE way to go. This is also the time to start slowly adding in the sugar, as it will help the peaks to form.
*This is by far my favorite and most used kitchen gadget- if you do not own one, you can use a regular hand held beater with whisk attachment too.
F. You will know you have reached the correct level of 'stiff peaks' when they stand up, and do not wilt back down. Stop as soon as this effect is observed- it is a myth that you should whip them until they are SO stiff that the bowl can be inverted- this is too much in the case of the souffle!! If for some reason they just wont stiffen up (sigh, can't get away from the innuendo),then a pinch of salt or splash of lemon might do the trick.
7. Combine the base with the whipped eggs by ladling the base sauce into the whipped egg bowl, and combing and folding rapidly until thoroughly blended together.
8. Pour mixture immediately into mold, and put in oven. Turn the heat down to Bake @400 for about 40 minutes, or until the puff rises (hopefully). DO NOT OPEN the oven door during the first 20 minutes. Walk lightly as you pass by. Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer inserted at 45 degrees, it should come out clean. Dust with powdered sugar and serve- the 'puff' will only last about 3 minutes or so once it is out of the oven, so snap a photo and quick serve it! (with homemade whip cream, of course!!)