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29 Sep 2009

Son of soufflé – Tomorrow’s another early morning, so I’m going to make this short and sweet today—technically this is note-length content, but with the photos it feels more like a journal entry, so that’s where I’m filing it.

“It may sound a little uncouth, and connoisseurs of French cuisine may call it blasphemy, but let me tell you: it was delicious.”

On Sunday evening I decided to make another soufflé, this time a chocolate one for dessert. The process was even easier than last time because I didn’t have to make a cheese sauce. I simply melted down some chocolate (100 g) with a little milk (20 g). This was done over a pot of hot water—you don’t want to melt chocolate over direct heat, of course, as it could easily burn.

On the left is the chocolate sauce. On the right is another sauce that we’ll get back to later. The only other ingredient added to the chocolate sauce was two egg yolks, added after the chocolate had cooled enough that it wouldn’t immediately cook the yolks. The egg whites, on the other hand, went into a stainless steel bowl, where I beat them with an electric beater.

I should note at this point that what you see above is pure egg whites. Most of the recipes I found for chocolate soufflés called for the addition of sugar to the egg whites, but I decided not to add any. I was already using semi-sweet chocolate, and I figured that would be sweet enough.

Once the egg whites and the sauce are ready, the process is pretty much always the same. First you add some of the egg whites to the sauce and fold it gently to lighten the sauce. As you can see in the photo above, I didn’t mix the egg whites in very much, just enough to prepare the chocolate for incorporation into the egg whites. I took what you see above and poured it into the egg whites, then folded the mixture gently until it was more or less uniform. Then I poured it into our two small ramekins. This time I brushed the ramekins with butter in advance so the soufflé wouldn’t stick.

Here are the soufflés on a baking pan, ready to go into the oven. The amount of cheese sauce that went into the cheese soufflés was much greater than the chocolate, so I didn’t have any mixture left over. In fact, I could have probably gotten away with a bit more in each of the ramekins, but I think this was fine. I put them into the oven at 210 degrees Celsius and set the timer for 12 minutes, based on my experience last time. After ten minutes, though, the soufflés looked ready, so I took them out.

This is one of the two soufflés straight out of the oven. It was a bit easier to see browning and doneness with the cheese soufflés, since the chocolate is already brown, but you should be able to see here that it is in fact done, with a nice, crisp top.

Here is where our mystery sauce comes into play. The sauce is, in fact, peanut butter sauce, made with a simple mixture of milk and peanut butter that has been heated. Interestingly enough, most of the recipes I saw for peanut butter sauce also called for some sort of sweetener, either sugar or corn syrup (although I think the corn syrup would probably also function as a thinner for the peanut butter, to make it more... well, syrupy). Again, though, I didn’t think the peanut butter needed any additional sweetness, so I just went with milk and peanut butter.

Why peanut butter sauce? Well, I’ve seen recipes for a lot of different sauces to accompany a chocolate soufflé—vanilla sauces, custard sauces, fruit sauces, and even chocolate sauces (chocolate much?). I wanted to try something different, though, and Hyunjin really likes peanut butter cups, so I figured I’d give it a shot. When the soufflés came out, we dug little wells in the center and poured the peanut butter sauce in. It may sound a little uncouth, and connoisseurs of French cuisine may call it blasphemy, but let me tell you: it was delicious.

This is a shot of my soufflé halfway through. You can see a couple of patches of unmixed egg white on the left, but I wasn’t too concerned about that. I probably could have been more thorough, but I’d rather leave a few patches of egg white than mix too aggressively and have the soufflé collapse. Aside from the random patch of egg white here and there, the soufflés were cooked perfectly—it turns out that ten minutes was ideal this time around. I was also happy that I didn’t add any sugar, as it turned out to be quite sweet. Nothing a nice, cold glass of milk couldn’t fix, though.

I think I will definitely try this again, although next time I might opt for a darker chocolate, maybe something around 70% cocoa solids. This was certainly good, but I imagine it could be even better with darker chocolate. I also might just go with straight chocolate and forgo the milk (increasing the amount of chocolate as needed). Or I may try something completely different. Cheese and chocolate are the only types of soufflés I know, but I’m sure there are other strange and blasphemous combinations out there I can try.

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