The lightest, airiest soufflé you’ll ever have
These bittersweet dark chocolate, egg-whites-only soufflés never fails to delight our guests whenever we serve them at La Villa. The “wow” factor when a well-risen soufflé is presented at their table, combined with the theatrics of pouring a light, refreshing sauce into the soufflé make this dessert a crowd-pleaser. However, for any first-timers attempting a soufflé, it can be quite an overwhelming experience. It sure was for me…
I remember mine vividly: I was in my second semester at Le Cordon Bleu, and chocolate soufflé was the recipe of the day. At Le Cordon Bleu, the chefs want to ensure we learn all the techniques without mechanical assistance: no KitchenAids, handheld mixers, no blenders etc. so students can truly understand how ingredients come together and why technique makes a difference. One day, I was given feedback that my arm strength in whisking egg whites or whipping cream still needed work. So, when it was time to make a soufflé, I worked extra hard in whisking those egg whites. They were so stiff and glossy and beautiful, I thought to myself – now who has the arm strength, chef?
What I didn’t take into consideration was the fact that I was in a class of 20+ students, which meant we all had to share the ovens. I wasn’t the fastest worker nor the slowest, just somewhere in between. That meant my souffle tray was placed in the middle of a 6-foot tall/long oven. While cleaning my countertop and work surface, I couldn’t help but go back and forth to check my soufflé, and it was rising with a vengeance! When the timer dinged, we all went to remove our tray from the oven. However, the guy whose tray was above mine removed his so excitedly that half of my soufflé top went with his tray! I passed the class, the chef applauded me for my effort, but I didn’t have a full soufflé to taste…
Five years later, why did I attempt making souffle again, and to put it on our menu? First, I have my own oven, all to myself, and I have two KitchenAids! Secondly, one of my best friends, chocolate and pastry chef Fatima K Rahman, works at Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Dubai and has now become my chocolate guru. One day, we were chatting about which chocolate type to use in what desserts, and I told her I had come across Cacao Barry Inaya 65%. She validated my decision to use it in a delicate dessert. And behold the birth of a light and airy (from the egg white-only), bittersweet dark chocolate (has to be 60% cacao minimum) soufflé, served with a citrus sauce (usually orange, but clementine, blood orange or grapefruit is fine too).
I hope you enjoy making this as much as I do, wowing your friends and family, and then (quickly) devouring it. Remember, a soufflé never waits – you eat it when it shows you it’s ready!
Yields 4 Prep Time: 10 mins Cook Time: 12 mins Total Time: 22 mins
|For the Chocolate Soufflés:
½ tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
4 tbsp sugar, divided
120g bittersweet chocolate (60 percent), cut into ½-inch pieces
¾ cup heavy cream
4 egg whites
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
For the Orange Sauce:
½ cup sour cream (or half crème fraiche, half Greek yogurt)
¼ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Grease ramekins with the butter with upward strokes (which will help the soufflé rise straight up) and coat with 2 tablespoons of sugar, rotating to coat the entire ramekin. Reserve.
Make the orange sauce: in a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients until smooth. Reserve in the fridge.
In a double boiler, add the chocolate and cream, and heat until completely melted, stirring until smooth. Reserve.
In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the egg whites and beat until soft peaks have formed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and whisk until stiff peaks have formed. Working in 3 batches, carefully fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites using a rubber spatula.
Divide the soufflé among the prepared ramekins. Place the soufflés on a baking sheet and bake until set in the center, 11 minutes at 200°C. Do not open the oven door until it’s ready or the soufflés might not rise or even collapse. Remove the soufflés from the oven. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and spoon over the orange sauce, then serve warm. A soufflé never waits!