Monday, February 14, 2011
It was bloody hot yesterday and the sun blazed with a vengeance right into the deepest nooks of the kitchen in our tiny flat. Despite this, I wanted to bake, urgently. Something with egg whites beaten into a French meringue. Something with just a little bit of sugar and a little cream. Something light and fluffy. Something with lots and lots of chocolate, even though I already had a chocolate molten cake at brunch and we still have a small stash of these in one of our Lunar New Year cookie jars, because nothing shouts love like chocolate.
Do you know that chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, calcium, potassium and vitamins (B2 and E to be exact)? And the darker you go the better, because more cocoa triggers the release of neurotransmitters that helps alleviate depression? And that chocolate relieves stress, with just a meager ounce and a half of the dark kind every day? And that oleic acid in chocolate helps boost good cholesterol levels?
So the information leaflet from my chocolate vendor told me, but I digress.
While it was humid and the room temperature read 33°C (the 100ish grams of butter from my freezer softened in just 15 minutes!), I fired up the oven, wiped off my sweat, weighed out my leftover egg whites from making lots of these, chopped up the darkest chocolate I could find in my pantry and whipped out my new ramekins. Maybe it's because I have a baker's heart, but then again maybe I really just wanted
After staring at the oven watching them rise (this is my kind of entertainment, if you can't already tell), fishing them out carefully and sprinkling some icing sugar on top, I asked Vijay to eat a pot while it's hot and still standing up tall, dark and handsome, as Sherie put it. He slowly savored a mouthful, declared it the best he ever had and fed me a scoop. For a short moment I went to chocolate soufflé heaven, albeit a slightly warm one. I wouldn't expect anything less. I mean, amongst the airy meringue bubbles were the darkest Valrhona chocolate and Valrhona cocoa powder and no egg yolks. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the goose bump-inducing real deal.
With this and no trace of any heart-shaped confections, I wish you Happy Valentine's Day!
Dark Chocolate Soufflé
Adapted from Stephane's Perfect Chocolate Soufflé. (Thanks Chef!)
Serves 4 (or with more for 2 on Feb 14)
Note: I used this sans egg yolks recipe due to my twenty-over-egg-whites-leftover-Lunar-New-Year-baking aftermath but if you don't want to have to think of what to do with leftover egg yolks, go for Stephane's latest recipe for two which includes them.
- 1/3 cup whipping cream
- 3 ounces Valrhona Manjari or your favorite bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Valrhona Abinao, 85% cocoa)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
- 1/3 cup water
- 8 large egg whites (I measured my leftover egg whites to 240 grams)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Use a pastry brush to coat the inside of four 1 1/2-cup soufflé mold with softened butter. Fill the mold with granulated sugar, then pour out the excess.
Pour the cream into a saucepan and heat over medium high heat until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Remove from the heat and make a ganache by adding the cream to the chopped chocolate, let stand for 1 minute. Stir well until combined and all of the chocolate has melted.
Make a double-boiler by setting a large mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water. Place the ganache in the mixing bowl, add the cocoa powder and water, and whisk until very hot. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl and whip on medium speed until foamy. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and make a French meringue by adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and whipping the whites to stiff but not dry peaks. Do not overwhip the egg whites!
Use a rubber spatula to gently fold about half the meringue into the warm chocolate mixture. Then fold the chocolate mixture into the remaining meringue, being careful not to deflate the batter. The soufflé mixture should be homogeneous in color, but a few streaks of meringue in the batter is fine. Use a large spoon to gently place the soufflé mixture in the buttered and sugared mold. Fill to about 1/4 inch below the rim of the mold. Run your thumb around the rim to remove the excess butter and sugar.
Bake until the soufflé has risen to about 1 1/2 half-inch over the rim and starts to brown on top, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and dust the top with powdered sugar. Serve immediately and if you wish (personally I don't think anything else is needed when soufflé heaven beckons), with a side of Grand Marnier creme anglaise or French vanilla ice cream.
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