A SOUFFLE of YOUR OWN: Individual Chocolate Soufflés with Vanilla Creme Anglaise
Soufflés are ethereal, elegant, fluffy, flavorful, yummy and the quintessential 3-star restaurant dessert. And chocolate soufflés are top of the line. Any and all soufflés are welcome chez moi but given a choice, I’ll choose individual ones every time. There is proportionately more topping and more of the wonderful buttery crust that forms on the sides of the ramekin where butter meets sugar meets soufflé base. And best of all, rather than getting a messy scoop of fallen soufflé, each person gets his or her own, still puffy and intact confection. Divine. And once doused in crème anglaise, it’s food for the gods.
My friend Alex Hitz sampled this souffle at one of my classes, raved and decided to feature it in his 2012 book, MY BEVERLY HILLS KITCHEN: CLASSIC SOUTHERN COOKING WITH A FRENCH TWIST. He says, “Do yourself a favor and serve it at your next dinner party. It is a showstopper…and I find it to be the best one ever.”
INDIVIDUAL CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE
Approximately 3 tablespoons unsalted butter and 6 tablespoons granulated sugar to prepare the mold
12 ounces best quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or grated
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup milk
9 eggs yolks
12 egg whites at room temperature (or even better, lukewarm)
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Butter and then sugar a 12 1 ¼ cup ramekins, soufflé molds or little charlotte.
2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over low heat. When the chocolate is melted, remove the pan from the heat
3. Whisk in the milk and the 1 cup sugar until the mixture is smooth. and then whisk in the yolks, one at a time. Make sure no traces of yolk remain visible.
4. Whip the eggs whites with the cream of tartar by hand with a whisk or in an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place and set at medium speed. When the whites are opaque and beginning to stiffen, slowly add the 6 tablespoons sugar. Increase the speed to high at this point if you are using an electric mixer. Beat until stiff.
5. Stir 1/4 of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture and then gently fold the lightened chocolate into the remaining whites.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared molds and place them on the middle rack of the oven. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375F. and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a knife blade inserted into the middle of the soufflé comes out clean. If you like your soufflé creamy at the center, remove it from the oven a bit sooner. Serve immediately.
7. Accompany with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, vanilla crème anglaise and/or chocolate sauce if desired.
CRÈME ANGLAISE or VANILLA ICE CREAM BASE
1 quart whole milk
1 quart heavy cream
1 ½ cups sugar
pinch of salt
12 eggs yolks (for ice cream, you can substitute 8 yolks and two whole eggs)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1. In a very large saucepan, heat the milk, about a quarter of the cream, the sugar and the salt until simmering. Simmer a bit and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
2. While the milk is heating, beat the yolks with a few tablespoons of the remaining cream. Put the rest of the cream in a large bowl with a sieve sest over it and set aside.
3. While beating, add half the hot liquid in a thin stream. Do not add too fast or you will curdle the yolks
4. Pour the yolk mixture back into the sauce pan and heat over medium heat, STIRRING CONSTANTLY with a wooden spoon. Make sure to keep scraping the bottom so the mixture does not stick/burn
5. As soon as the mixture is thick enough to heavily coat the back of a spoon, pour it through the sieve into the cream in the bowl.
6. Stir in the vanilla extract and place the bowl in a pot of ice water to cool quickly.
7. Refrigerate until ready to use (up to 2 days) or make into ice cream or freeze to use at another time.