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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

1st Souffle Success!

Not to toot my own horn (well kind of - toot! toot!), but I tackled the souffle this weekend and sort of killed it ;-)

Hubs was making a lobster meal for our Valentine's feast so I decided I needed to step up the dessert game and make something impressive. Souffles are always a hit on dessert menus (the fact that you need to order them 30 minutes in advance creates an unrivaled anticipation and the presentation when a dramatically high souffle is delivered to the table is quite something) so I scoured the world wide webs for the perfect recipe and got to work.

I knew that I wouldn't be able to do a whole lot of prep immediately before the meal b/c of the kids and I knew I didn't want to be making the damn thing while I was supposed to be enjoying dinner with my luv, so the key was finding a recipe I felt confident I could make ahead of time, then popping it in the oven during dinner so it would be ready when we finished.

I stumbled upon this very informative article about making souffles and decided that this gal was the souffle expert so I decided to use her recipe and meticulously follow her detailed advice.

What I learned from the experience is this:
- souffles can be made ahead of time. Just mix the batter up the day before and put the whole thing in the fridge (inverted bowl on top) until a couple hours before you want to bake it, when you should remove and bring to room temperature.

Souffle batter with inverted bowl...
 - while you're planning ahead, put the buttered, sugared souffle dish(es) in the fridge. Right before you want to bake it, pour batter into chilled souffle dish and pop into oven.
- separate your eggs when they're still chilled, but use room temperature eggs when you're doing the mixing. And don't overmix your egg whites into the batter!

A nice, stiff egg white is key...
Folding in the egg white into the batter...
Better to leave some white streaks than overmix...
 - use an oven thermometer to ensure you're at the correct temperature. I followed AmberLee's advice and pre-heated to 400, then brought the temperature down to 375 when I put the souffle in (caveat here though, I actually increased the temp back up to 400 for the last 5 minutes of baking as it was taking a little longer than expected, so I baked mine at 375 for 34 minutes and 400 for 4 minutes for a total of 39 minutes. My advice? Start checking at 24 and add 5 minute increments of time until top is crusty and center still jiggles a bit).
The finished product! Add some creme fraiche and dig in!
 - move oven rack to lowest position and place souffle dish on there. I read a tip that bottom rack is what you want to use to achieve lift so for anything light and airy that needs to rise, bake from the bottom.
- tie a piece of parchment paper around the souffle dish so your souffle doesn't topple over when it's rising. Also, place the souffle dish on a baking sheet in case any batter spills over the side.

- be prepared to eat the souffle immediately when it's done. The whole thing can deflate quickly and while it'll still be delicious, isn't part of the point of souffles the presentation?!

After a full lobster feast, this is the best we could do. Souffles are probably better for a bigger crowd so I'll be saving this badboy to use for a dinner party down the road... 

Hope my souffle tips make the task a little less daunting for you! It was well worth the time and effort (especially since it was able to be made ahead of time) and as you can tell, I was quite proud of myself!

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