The per­fect ... choco­late souf­fle

The Guardian - Feast - - News - Fe­lic­ity Cloake

The one thing that unites us as a na­tion at Easter is our bound­less ap­petite for choco­late eggs – we spend £220m a year on the things. If you’re out to im­press, how­ever, turn those eggs into a souf­fle in­stead: richly flavoured, yet feath­erlight, it’s the per­fect end to an Easter feast and, cru­cially, far eas­ier to pull off than its fear­some rep­u­ta­tion sug­gests. Not that your guests need to know that … Many sweet souf­fle recipes start with ei­ther a crème pâtis­sière

(egg cus­tard thick­ened with flour, favoured by chefs Daniel Clif­ford, Row­ley Leigh and Gor­don Ram­say) or a bechamel (a but­ter-based white sauce, used in Mary Berry’s Com­plete Cook­book), which gives them more sub­stance.

Martha Ste­wart, Delia Smith and the folk at the US mag­a­zine Cook’s Il­lus­trated pre­fer a flour-free recipe, re­ly­ing on the thick­en­ing power of eggs alone.

The prob­lem, I find, with flourthick­ened souf­fles is not that they tend to­wards the slightly cakey in tex­ture, it’s that the flavour of the choco­late is di­luted. The more in­tense char­ac­ter of the flour-free ver­sions ap­peals more to the testers, and the sim­pler recipe to me. Once the choco­late and co­coa are melted to­gether, and the egg yolks beaten with the sugar, com­bine the two That said, even these don’t de­liver quite the choco­late hit I want in a dessert, so I’m go­ing to add a spoon­ful of co­coa, which will help to boost the flavour with­out too much ex­tra co­coa-but­ter weight. Berry, Ste­wart and Cook’s Il­lus­trated put vanilla essence into their bat­ter, and the last of those adds some Grand Marnier for good mea­sure: feel free to in­clude what­ever flavour­ings you fancy.

Be­cause I’m not adding any ex­tra fat in the form of dairy, my recipe will in­clude as many egg yolks to thicken and en­rich the base as egg whites to lighten it – beaten with sugar, they will give ex­tra vol­ume, too.

As I find to my cost, it’s im­per­a­tive the egg whites are Care­fully fold in the whipped egg whites – you want to re­tain as much air in the mix as pos­si­ble, so the souf­fles re­main light

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