Yesterday was National Chocolate Day aka Valentine's Day. I have somewhat ambivalent feelings about Valentine's Day - it is purely a consumer holiday based loosely on the brutal death of a Catholic saint (weird, right?). Brad and I usually just make a delicious dinner, decadent dessert, and drink some wine at home and take time to be with each other. And that's my favorite part - just taking time to be together. We don't really do gifts. They're really isn't a point. Don't get me wrong, I love jewelry and gifts as much as the next girl, but it isn't necessary. Brad always gets me roses and chocolates and we have a fantastic night together. Then again - he buys me roses and chocolates and cooks for me more than once a year. He does it extremely often - I'm damn lucky. The best part of Valentine's Day is really how lucky I am to have someone who does things that most guys scramble around to do on one random day in February and I get a designated day to spend time with him.
This year, we upped the meal and dessert a bit. Last year, I made steak and potatoes while he baked a red velvet cake from scratch. This year - Brad was in charge of dinner and I was in charge of dessert. He got live lobsters (!) to cook along with saffron risotto and sauteed spinach. It was one hell of a meal. And the dessert I was in charge of wasn't half bad either....
I decided to take a risk and make chocolate souffle. Souffle gets a bad reputation - it's supposed to be fussy, delicate, and temperamental. But really, it's not. In fact, I think it was one of the easiest desserts I have ever made. Seriously.
So take a risk, make souffle. You will not be disappointed.
I even documented the entire process start to finish to show how easy it really is.
A delicious, delicate, and luscious chocolate souffle.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Souffle
Recipe from Mark Bittman
About 1 tablespoon butter for dish
1/3 cup sugar, plus some for dish
3 eggs, separated
2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.
All of the ingredients, set up and ready to go.
1. Start by preheating oven to 350 degrees. *
Note: I committed souffle sin and made everything beforehand, refrigerated them, and baked them the next day. And they turned out perfect! You are welcome to try this although I can't say with any certainty that it will work.
2. Butter two 2-cup or one 4-cup soufflé or other deep baking dish(es). Sprinkle each with sugar, invert it and tap to remove excess sugar.
3. Separate the eggs, but the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another.
4. Next, beat egg yolks with all but 1 tablespoon sugar (set it aside, you will need it later) until very light and very thick; mixture will fall in a ribbon from beaters when it is ready.
5. Mix in the melted chocolate until well combined.
NOTE: You can melt chocolate a number of ways. I took the shortcut way and put my chopped up chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwaved in 30 second intervals. It only took me about a minute to get it to melt. It is very important not to over-heat your chocolate because then it gets gritty and seizes up. No good. If microwaving, do on low setting in 30 second intervals stirring after each interval. Stir for a bit, the chocolate will melt. Alternatively, you could use a double boiler as well.
6. Wash beaters well and DRY them thoroughly or switch beaters. It is important to use a clean bowl with clean beaters. Egg whites don't like dirty things, then they won't get all puffed and lovely. (I just simply did the yolks by hand and then did the whites with the stand mixer). Get your cream of tartar out.
Cream of tartar is the secret weapon for keeping egg whites from deflating. It is a byproduct of winemaking (cool, right?!) that stabilizes egg whites by making them more heat tolerant and increasing their volume. I highly recommend it for souffle or meringue making.
7. Beat egg whites with salt and cream of tartar until whites hold soft peaks.
8. Continue to beat, gradually adding remaining tablespoon sugar, until they are very stiff and glossy.
9. Stir a spoonful of whites thoroughly into egg yolk mixture to lighten it.
10. Now, fold in remaining whites, using a rubber spatula.
NOTE: Now, I have heard that the ideal number of "turns" to incorporate egg whites into souffle is around 3. Well, I don't completely buy that. It is more about how you fold. Fold in one direction only, starting from the outside and working your way in. Try to scoop up the batter while you fold. You definitely do not want to start in the center and whirl it around, then you will deflate the whites. Fold until just incorporated.
11. Transfer to prepared soufflé dish(es); at this point you can cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.
NOTE: Bittman's recipe states that it yields 2 small souffles or 1 large souffle. I had enough batters for 4 small souffles that used small ramekins. Basically, fill up the dish and make as many as you can. You don't want to waste this stuff.
12. Bake until center is nearly set, 20 minutes for individual soufflés and 25 to 35 minutes for a single large soufflé. Serve immediately.
NOTE: If using smaller ramekins, like mine, I suggest baking for 15 minutes. Just give them the tiniest little jiggle to see if they are nearly set. Err on the side of underdone (since they will carry-cook).
Now that is a sexy souffle.
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