If recipes turned out exactly the way they were supposed to every time we made them, baking wouldn’t be fun. “It’s okay, it still tastes good!” Week 13: Chocolate Souffles
*I’m running home after work to make a batch of vanilla souffles, so I’ll add a picture to this post at the end if it works out! Stay tuned.*
I’ve always associated souffles with words like finicky, fancy and failure. (Alliteration is life.) So naturally, I had to try it! The recipe itself is rather simple. It only has a handful of ingredients and took very little time to assemble. I felt like I was being tricked. How could it be so simple?
The catch is that the main ingredient is whipped egg whites and they are extremely temperamental. Beat them too little and they won’t hold up; stir in an heavy ingredient and you’ll deflate them. Such fun.
The way that eggs function in baking is rather magical. They can bubble and float and make everything fluffy and rich. The richness comes from the yolk, which has a mixture of fat and protein. The whites are completely protein with no fat, so they can be whipped up into a bubbly frenzy. The protein in the egg whites helps to trap the air that you are whipping into it, creating masses of bubbles that build on top of each other. Having fat mixed in with the whites makes it so the bubbles can’t successfully form and air isn’t trapped.
Another side note: I was always taught to break eggs on a flat surface to minimize the amount of shell shards, but I still crack them on the side of my bowl to get a good break. Moral of this story: you do you.
This recipe called for ramekins. Aren’t they cute? They perfect for puddings and small-batch bakes like souffles. I also use them for setting up mise en place before starting a more complicated bake, and for holding handfuls of snacks. Endlessly useful! My mother happens to have a large collection of them, so I picked a few of my favorites. Fun fact: the set in the middle of this picture (with the blue rim) was one of her wedding presents 33 years ago!
Just me and my flour baby. I finally gave in at Safeway and bought the enormous bag of flour. Running back and forth to get more little bags was getting old. I have named this Hippie, as it is a true “flour” child. (hehe)
It took a lot for me to stop eating this baking chocolate. 70% cacao is so good.
Guess who went to Disney World and brought back a spatula? Yeah. This girl.
I know sifting can be obnoxious (especially if you have a tiny sifter like I do) but it truly makes a smoother batter. Plus it looks like you have snow-capped mountains in your bowl. Who doesn’t love that?
This is one of those recipes that requires a bath to bake correctly. Can you see the pool of water the lil ramekins are sitting in? I barely can either, but trust me, it’s there! It supposedly helps when cooking dense custards to mellow out the heat in the oven so the middle cooks evenly with the outside. It’s not necessary though. Only if you’re feelin’ fancy.
It was supposed to be a picture of the souffles rising in the oven, but it turned into a “look at my pretty new dish towel and ignore how dirty my oven window is” kind of picture. Focus on the triangles! So pretty, right?
Despite my serenading the little guys with “Rise Up” from Hamilton, they never rose to their fullest heights. They sat stubbornly flat and low in their ramekins. Essentially, I made elegant, individually-portioned brownies. To make up for their lack of puffing, I cut out stencils and dusted them with powdered sugar.
Looking back at my initial thoughts reading through the recipe, I was correct in that it is a simple recipe. However, simple is relative, and it’s the kind of recipe that you get the hang of after lots of practice. That was your dose of baking philosophy for the day. Carry on.
P.S. – Here are the successful vanilla souffles!
When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And eat the mistakes. Because they are delicious.
Recipe from: Bake! The Quick-Look Cookbook by Gabriela Scolik + Team