I am obsessed with souffles. I have been known to whip one up when I am feeling blue or prepare one because I am in a celebratory mood. I mean who doesn’t like a comforting spoonful of puffed eggs laced with cheese? Last year my husband and I went to Paris to relive our souffle-loving year there several year before. As serious Francophiles, we focused on a search of restaurants that feature souffles. If you are ever in Paris it is recommended that you high tail it over to Recamier, just down the street from Le Bon Marche. There you may enjoy the best savory and dessert souffles possibly anywhere. This is what memories are made of.
When we returned home, I kept experimenting with different combinations. I found switching out the classic French cheeses for a snappy pepper jack cheese created a spicy combination. It’s a taste of Mexican flavor in a French classic. This recipe is basically a simple white sauce enriched with egg yolk and grated pepper jack cheese. Stiff egg whites are folded right into the mixture. Remember to fold the egg whites carefully into the sauce to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.
Soufflés couldn’t be easier to put together. In fact, I think of them as a Seriously Simple dish. The secret to success is that your timing be just right. So, plan ahead and figure out what you might be serving ahead like a salad or soup and time the soufflé to go into the oven as you sit down for your first course. Be aware that you can wait for the soufflé, but the soufflé waits for no one. You don’t want to serve a deflated souffle.
- Use room temperature eggs (cold eggs hold less air)
- Carefully separate the eggs. Make sure you use a spotlessly clean bowl for the egg whites or they will not whip up properly
- When separating the eggs use an extra bowl to individually separate the eggs. This way you can control egg whites to make sure no yolk contaminates the white and then transfer each egg white into another bowl that contains all of the whites. You won’t have an accident with yolk slipping into the egg whites. If you do have an accident of yolk with white, save it for making scrambled eggs.
- Use an electric mixer for the whites; make sure the beaters are perfectly clean.
- You can add additions such as crisp bacon pieces, thin cooked vermicelli noodles, corn kernels or chopped spinach. Make sure to add it to the sauce before you fold in the egg whites.
1 teaspoon soft unsalted butter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons grated pepper jack cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch white pepper
5 egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
- Prepare a 1 1/2 quart soufflé dish by rubbing 1 teaspoon soft butter over base and sides of dish and sprinkling with 1 tablespoon grated cheese.
- Preheat oven to 375F. Melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and mix with a wooden spoon for 1 minute. Let flour and butter cook until bubbling but still white, about 2 more minutes. Add milk and whisk sauce until thick and smooth, about 2 more minutes. Bring sauce to a boil while whisking. Cool for 10 minutes.
- Add egg yolks to the cooled mixture and whisk until smooth. Add the mustard, salt, white pepper and whisk to combine.
- Whip egg whites with a pinch of salt and cream of tartar in a spotlessly clean large bowl with whisk or electric mixer until stiff peaks form but are not dry.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold half of egg whites into sauce. Add all but 1 tablespoon of remaining grated cheese to sauce and then fold in the rest of egg whites just until no white streaks remain. Pour into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon of cheese and then finish with the breadcrumbs on top.
- Bake in the middle rack for 30-35 minutes until brown. Remove and serve immediately.
By: Diane Rossen Worthington
Art: Maren Caruso, photographer