Recipe Number One Hundred & Eighty Three: Page 366.
Just the very word soufflé is surely enough to strike fear into any novice baker. It certainly sent a shiver down my spine! I'd never contemplated making one before. However, this recipe had to be completed. I love hot chocolate, so the title made it sound very tempting while the photograph in the Baking Bible looked fantastic. Maybe the finished result would be worth the anxiety – I certainly hoped so!
Mary says that either four small soufflé dishes or one large dish can be used. I imagined that four would look prettier than one gigantic dessert, but alas it wasn't to be. After a long search in my favourite cookware shop I had to settle on a large dish; there was no sign of anything smaller.
Before I headed into my parents' kitchen to make a start I warned my family that the air might soon turn a deep shade of blue, so they might like to avoid the kitchen for a while!! I really felt as though I was off to walk the plank! I knew that I would have to concentrate with this recipe. I was careful to make sure that I had all my ingredients at hand and I tried to take my time working through the instructions. I read it aloud to make sure that it sank in!
For the recipe I required not one but two saucepans. I set them both on the hob ready to play their part. I broke up the chocolate and placed it into a saucepan. This was a painful task as the chocolate was so thick and difficult to break! I carefully measured in a few tablespoonfuls of water and then moved on to the milk. I poured half a pint into a measuring jug. From this I took two tablespoonfuls which I put into the pan. I needed to heat the mixture until the chocolate melted. However, I couldn't leave it to its own devices as it had to be stirred continuously. It really lived up to its title as it really did look just like hot chocolate. I felt tempted to siphon some off and have a few sips! It looked and smelt delicious.
Once the chocolate had melted I was ready to move on to the next stage. I poured in the remaining milk and kept stirring until it reached boiling point. It looked very watery. I could just imagine extracting a puffed up soufflé from the oven, diving in with a spoon and discovering a runny mess lying beneath the surface!
I required the use of the second saucepan for the next stage of the recipe. I followed the instructions, added a moderate amount of butter to the saucepan and turned on the heat. Once the butter had melted I moved on to tipping in the same quantity of plain flour. As I stirred the buttery paste for the suggested two minutes I felt on familiar ground. I often find myself whipping up a white sauce for meals and I was following the same process. As long as I didn't add any cheese I should be alright!! When the two minutes were up I was to take the pan from the heat and stir in the hot chocolate milk. I expected the mixture to develop a multitude of lumps. However, surprisingly it remained fairly smooth and was easy to combine. I just needed to re-heat the rich chocolaty mixture and bring it back to the boil. It was soon suitably thick and ready to the receive a few drops of vanilla extract. Next it had to be left to cool. I hadn't anticipated how long this would take! I paced the floor waiting for the temperature to drop but it took an eternity. Every time I checked it was still piping hot. How could it take so long when my dinner can turn stone cold in minutes?! After what appeared to be a very VERY long time, the mixture was finally cold. I have to admit that by now I'd lost interest in this soufflé!!
I retrieved a mixing bowl from the cupboard and then set about separating four eggs. I collected the whites in the clean bowl and beat the yolks, one at a time, into the cold chocolate sauce. Mary's next instruction is to sprinkle caster sugar over the surface. She doesn't mention stirring it in! The whites were not to be forgotten, as the next task was to whisk them until stiff but not dry. As I carefully folded the fluffy whites into the chocolate mixture it also took care of the sugar. Soon everything was combined and ready to make its way into the soufflé dish. I carefully placed the full dish into the oven on a preheated oven sheet. It would take forty minutes to cook; I couldn't resist checking on it every few minutes to see if it was rising!
After about twenty minutes my soufflé erupted! It became clear that I had created a monster! It had a craggy surface and had risen at least an inch above the rim of the dish. Watching it grow was all very exciting, but I had to make arrangements for its exit from the oven. I was sure that it would collapse within seconds, so everything had to be ready and waiting. I needed to dust the top of the soufflé with icing sugar, so I collected it from the cupboard and placed it on the worktop along with the all important sieve. Perhaps most importantly of all, the camera was turned on and dangling from my neck. With it fastened to me I couldn't misplace it at the crucial moment. I am forever putting things down and forgetting where I've put them!!
I glanced at the clock; it was time – eeeek! I slipped on the oven mitts, flung open the oven door and hastily grabbed the dish from the oven. I galloped at high speed across the kitchen to place it on the awaiting tea towel. I half heartedly dusted the icing sugar over the top of the soufflé and then quickly clicked away with the camera. Even in those fleeting few seconds the soufflé had started to make its descent. It was quite upsetting witnessing its fall from glory!!! If I had made this for a dinner party I would barely have had time to sprint to the dining room, 'throw' it on the table and splutter a quick “ta da” before it sunk!
Through this challenge I've learnt that looks really aren't everything! Sometimes the most plain cakes or uninspiring desserts are the most delicious. This soufflé may well taste fantastic despite its sagging appearance. I pushed a spoon through the cracked crust of the soufflé and discovered a silky smooth chocolate mousse underneath. I was delighted to find that it was perfectly cooked all the way through – phew! For the first time I found Mary's portion sizes to be too generous! There really was too much for four people, especially as it was so rich. The flavour was intensely chocolaty and the texture was smooth. I am used to eating chilled mousses, so I felt a little perturbed to eat it hot. It was a very pleasant dessert but there was too much of it and even I struggled to polish it off!
|My Soufflé Monster!|
|A sinking feeling!|
Recipe Variation: Coffee Soufflés
I must admit that I didn't approach this recipe with much enthusiasm. I hadn't been particularly keen on the hot chocolate version so didn't have high hopes! I really like coffee cakes etc but wasn't sure how it would work in a soufflé.
Instead of adding chocolate along with a little water I used a few tablespoonfuls of coffee essence in their place. I could then work my way through the instructions as before.
I found my second attempt at a soufflé much easier. I wasn't scared of it!!!! Thankfully the coffee soufflé rose up in the oven nicely. Once it had been whisked from the oven I quickly dusted over some icing sugar before taking the all important picture. After a few seconds it began to sink but it didn't seem to descend as quickly as the chocolate one!
I preferred this coffee soufflé as it wasn't too sickly. Even so, I couldn't manage all of my portion as I still found it a little rich. Isaac spied my leftovers and was soon begging for a helping. I really didn't think he'd like the coffee flavour but he loved it! Neil was also a fan and he polished off pretty much the whole soufflé!
|Starting to sink!!|