Test kitchen secrets
Cookery writer Adam Bush shows you how to whip up a pistachio and white chocolate soufflé
I recently ate at revamped London restaurant The Game Bird in The Stafford hotel. The meal finished with a pistachio soufflé, which came tall and proud like a Latin teacher at a private school. The sort of dessert that’s cringing at the thought of a peasant like me devouring it in three bites. I vowed there and then that I would learn to make an equally regal pistachio soufflé, and so demystify the whole process. First I had a look at some soufflé masters for inspiration. Pierre Koffmann has been serving up perfect soufflés alongside pistachio ice cream for decades. Raymond Blanc bakes his with a ball of chocolate ice cream inside. Making their recipes gave me pointers towards perfecting my own. Making a soufflé can be split into several important parts. First, you have to make the panade. This thick custard base acts as the stabiliser in a soufflé. Without this the whisked egg whites would rise unchecked and collapse – their structure unable to support the rapid aeration. The thickness of the panade is crucial. A thin custard will not have the strength to suspend the egg whites and allow them to steadily rise and set. The second vital step is well-whisked egg whites. The stiffest of peaks is required for maximum lift – these will make your soufflés stratospheric. The buttering and flouring of the moulds or ramekins is also important. Use a pastry brush to sweep vertically up the insides of the mould to encourage an even rise. A coating of flour gives the mixture something to grip as it rises. I also experimented with oven temperature. A really hot oven makes for the most dramatic rise – they expand quickly before setting, but this also makes for the most dramatic fall. I’m sure everyone would believe that “they were huge in the oven” as you plonked down a pistachio pancake on their plate. I opted for a medium-hot oven, as this gave a good rise and they held better and longer. To give the soufflés extra rise I used a method known as ‘bottom heat’. You put a solid baking tray in the oven when you turn it on so that the direct heat onto the bottom of the soufflé moulds will give them an instant lift. I used a good-quality white chocolate for the ganache bombs at the bottom of these soufflés. Popping them in the mould frozen means that they are perfectly molten by the time the soufflés are cooked. Make sure you dig right to the bottom with each spoonful to get a mouthful of rich ganache, too.
Pistachio and white chocolate soufflé
1 HOUR + COOLING + FREEZING | MAKES 6 | EASY salted butter 25g plain flour 20g, plus extra for dusting the ramekins whole milk 150ml vanilla extract 1 tsp eggs 3, separated golden caster sugar 35g pistachio paste 50g (see cook’s notes) icing sugar to serve WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE double cream 150ml good-quality white chocolate 150g, finely chopped
• To make the ganache, put the cream in a small pan and gently bring to the boil. Put the chocolate into a bowl and pour over the boiling cream. Leave for a few minutes and then stir until melted. Pour into a small shallow baking dish and chill until solid. Once set, scoop out with a spoon and shape into 6 balls, put on a tray and freeze for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. • Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 and put in a solid baking tray to heat up. • Melt the butter and thoroughly coat the inside of 6 large ramekins, painting upward strokes on the sides to encourage rise. Lightly dust with flour so they are completely covered, knocking out any excess. • To make the panade, put the milk and vanilla extract in a pan and gently bring to the boil. In a bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks, ae of the sugar and 20g plain flour. Pour over the boiling milk, whisking vigorously. Pour back into the pan and cook, stirring, until thickened – it should be the consistency of a thick béchamel sauce. Pour into a bowl and stir through the pistachio paste. Line the surface with clingfilm (to avoid a skin forming) and leave to cool. • Using electric beaters, whisk the egg whites until peaks form. Add the remaining Z\NHY HUK ^OPZR [V Z[PMM WLHRZ (KK Н VM [OPZ to the panade and mix thoroughly. Add the YLTHPUPUN ^OP[LZ НH[ H [PTL MVSKPUN P[ through, so there are no lumps of egg white. • Put a ball of the frozen ganache in the bottom of each ramekin and divide the soufflé mixture between them, running a palette knife straight across the top so that the surface is flat. Use your thumbnail with a tiny piece of kitchen paper to run around the edge, making a shallow groove and ensuring the rim of the ramekin is clean. • Put the moulds straight on the hot baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until well risen and golden. Serve hot from the oven with a dusting of icing sugar. PER SERVING 420 KCALS | FAT 30.9G | SATURATES 16.7G CARBS 26.5G | SUGARS 23.3G | FIBRE 0.8G PROTEIN 8.1G | SALT 0.2G
"DIP RIGHT TO THE BOTTOM WITH EACH SPOONFUL TO GET A MOUTHFUL OF RICH WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE, TOO"
run your thumbnail around the edge to help the soufflé rise cleanly