So, a few weeks ago—or actually over a month ago (time flies)–I was looking for a new way to eat eggs and cheese. Eggs and cheese? Eggs + cheese = soufflé!!!
A quick internet search and I found a website with a basic savory soufflé recipe. Yay!!!
I then discovered that the only cheese I had was mozzarella . . . . Is that really a soufflé cheese? Well, I had developed a hankerin’ for an inflated savory egg dish, and why not? Mozzarella is stretchy.
The recipe requires several exact steps in quick succession that require ingredients to be heated but not hot, mixed but not overbeaten.
Ingredients (2 egg)
- 2 eggs (white and yolks seperated)
- 1/2 cups milk
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3/4 cup cheese
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 350°
- Butter and flour a large baking dish.
- Prepare your basic roux. (i.e. melt butter in a pan, add flour and cook—whisking constantly—until it just begins to turn a light brown color.)
- Heat milk (in microwave) until hot, but not boiling.
- Add a small amount of roux into the milk and mix, then add the milk mixture back into the roux. Surprise! You now have the basic foundation to a simple white-sauce.
- Reduce heat. Whisk a small amount of this hot sauce mixture into the egg yolks, then add the yolks back into the sauce, whisking well.
- Warning #1: Once you have mixed in the egg yolk, you must be very careful to keep the overall mixture at a low temperature! Otherwise the egg yolks will temper and your sauce will either have a mottled texture or the consistency of a mysterious plastic petroleum product. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and keep the sauce only warm enough to continue melting cheese or other items.
- Slowly add cheese and mix until it is melted into the sauce. Surprise! You now have a basic cheese sauce!
- Warning #2: Before the next step (beating the egg whites) it is worthwhile to note how important it is that you didn’t accidentally get any egg yolk into the whites. SERIOUSLY! A couple drops of the yellow stuff with screw your egg whites badly. If you accidentally get a drop of a broken yolk into the whites, carefully and surgically remove it with a spoon. Consider the egg yolk to be KRYPTONITE at this stage!
- Now use a mixer at medium or high speed to beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they are “stiff but not dry”. (Once they peak, they’re done. If you don’t stop immediately they’ll resemble a merange.)
- Add 1/4 of the egg white to the sauce and mix.
- FOLD the sauce into the egg whites. FOLD does not mean mix! This is important: you just barely mix the two together. It is perfectly okay that you see bits of white. The mixture does not need to be homogenous.
- Place mixture in baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Serve IMMEDIATELY. When souffles cool, they begin to collapse. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal. ALL crepes start to fall the moment they are pulled out of the over. If you serve immediately though, nobody will notice.
It is REALLY easy to modify this recipe. All you need for a souffle is some sort of sauce mixed with beaten egg-white. It can be a cheese sauce, chocolate sauce, peanut-butter sauce, fruit sauce, tomato sauce… anything. During the folding phase you can also add solid ingredients like mushrooms, sausage, pieces of fruit, etc. The souffle makes a perfect leftover-casserole.
(I especially love the end note.)
It was a bit touch and go, but overall I think that first result was good. I don’t think the mozzarella hurt at all, but I do think I let the cheese in step 8 get a bit too cold. This first attempt roughly doubled the height of the precooked mix, but did not explode and spill out of the dish like a gigantic mushroom.
A few days later, a second attempt with bleu cheese went slightly better, the first few steps with the roux and the tempered eggs did better, and I think I kept the cheese part warmer to melt. It rose somewhat more, although I still didn’t get a big top hat . . . . This one went nicely with a hamburger. The taste was a bit strong; milder preferences might want a half and half mix of bleu cheese and white cheddar.
I decided to try my hand with a traditional cheese as well and a cheddar soufflé turned out much the same.
Fast forward a few weeks and I am cooking with a gas stove, I try again with Pepper Jack (Monterrey Jack with bits of pepper in it) cheese. It went well, another doubling of height, although this time I think I cooked it slightly too hot and slightly too long and it fell. Boo. Good taste, decent texture—a bit overcooked, but not much.
And you think I am done?
I decided it was time to try dessert soufflé and why not? Always good to be well rounded.
I found a recipe online for oh so easy chocolate soufflé. Only a few ingredients and no yolk tempering this time. Just melt the chocolate into the cream, beat the whites with a bit of sugar and then voila! A dessert soufflé.
Easy Chocolate Souffle
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 4 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Coat insides and rims of four 6-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with sugar and set on a baking sheet; set aside.
- In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate and cream. Micro-cook on 100 percent power (high) for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until smooth, stirring twice. Divide in half. Cover and cool to room temperature.
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until soft peaks form (tips curl).
- Gently fold half of the cooled chocolate mixture into the beaten egg whites until combined. Spoon mixture into prepared ramekins. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center of souffles comes out clean. Serve immediately. To serve, open the centers of the souffles with two spoons and pour in remaining chocolate mixture. Makes 4 servings.
I made a couple of adjustments to the chocolate soufflé—I used milk for convenience instead of cream, used one large dish instead of ramekins, and turned the temperature down to 375. It looked done after 15 minutes but fell substantially. It seemed coked, but the result was a bit disappointing—maybe it was milk instead of cream, maybe it was a big dish instead of ramekins, but it was chocolate.
Thinking over the recipe later, I realized that it did not use egg yolks, which was different than the savory recipes. I reviewed a few other sweet soufflé recipes and discovered that most of them use the yolk. Hmm. I think I might try a recipe with yolks on my next attempt at a sweet soufflé.