The word souffle itself means puffed up or full of air, and one of the best ways to get air into a dish is to fold into it whipped egg whites or unsweetened meringue.
A souffle may be hot or cold and you can add almost anything to it from cheese, ham, and vegetables to chocolate and fruits.
A classic sweet and savory souffle has two main components, a starch-thickened egg yolk-rich base or puree, and whipped egg whites. The base provides the flavor and the egg whites the lift. For a good result, don't open the oven door during baking. Cook at an even temperature and serve immediately, preferably with a little cream anglaise. Magnifique!
This time I choose to make a chocolate souffle, the base is flavored with bitter-sweet chocolate, vanilla extract and Kahlua liquor. Without the whipped egg whites you have a rich chocolate Kahlua pudding. But fold in the beaten egg whites and something amazing happens, those whites trap the air in the egg yolk base and allow the souffle to expand and rise with the heat of the oven. Serves 2.
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
3 ounces chopped bitter or semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg whites
2 egg yolks
pinch of cream of tartar
1/2 cup Kahlua
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Use 1 tablespoon of butter to grease 2-ounce ramekins. Coat the ramekins with the sugar, tapping out the excess. In a large bowl, over a pan with simmering water, melt the chocolate and remaining butter, stir occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and add vanilla liquor and whisk in the yolks until smooth, set aside. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with sugar, salt, and cream of tartar until stiff (but not dry), peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites mixture into the chocolate and spoon into ramekins. (The recipe can be made to this point up to one day ahead).
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bake for 20 minutes until set, puffed, raised 1-2 inches above the ramekin, If baked from the refrigerator, add five more minutes. Et voila, you have a melt-in-your mouth souffle dessert. Enjoy!
Recipe courtesy of Chef Aziz of Traditions on the Beach, 3111 West Gulf Drive in the historic Island Inn. To make a reservation call 239.472.4559 or visit www.TraditionsOnTheBeach.com.