Photo of a cheese souflee

Soufflés: The Fleeting Beauty Dish

There are some dishes, that when ready, always seem to amaze those who’ll eat it and the one who made it.

I put soufflés in that category – you just must be quick in your admiration before the billowy architecture deflates. Point of clarification: Cold soufflés aren’t soufflés at all. Gelatin makes them a molded mousse with egg whites; it’s the collar around the dish allowing for height that gives it the soufflé appearance.

Do you think Vincent La Chapelle made it for Madame de Pompadour when he worked for her in the 18th century? The first soufflé mention is attributed to him. It’s believed his was the first cookbook to insist on a break with the past and to characterize his cooking as modern.

It was, however, Marie Antoine Carême, considered to be the first internationally renowned celebrity chef, who refined and popularized the dish as part of his 19th century grandiose and refined “grande cuisine.”

Under the watchful eye of my mom, my first attempt at making a soufflé was a success. It was a joint effort, and the two takeaways were the egg white beating to the stiff but not too stiff peaks and learning how to properly fold ingredients. She taught me it was crucial to do that gently, lifting as high as possible and it was OK if there were some traces of egg as they’d incorporate when baking. No slamming the oven door shut; everything about making a soufflé is gentle.

Like unwrapping a gift, the best part was removing the collar, letting the steam escape, then savoring its deliciousness. But really, the best part was time together in the kitchen, having fun, crossing our fingers for success and cheering our result.

Come make kitchen memories with us! On Jan. 19, Chef Riley Chandler is teaching an in-person winter pasta workshop of butternut squash and cheese ravioli and fettuccine carbonara. You can also cook along with him live via Zoom.

We’ll get you in the Valentine’s Day mood with two in-person classes with master baker and decorator Patricia Ordoñez Beattie – Feb. 2 it’s Edible Art – Valentine Cookie Decorating and Feb. 9 the fun is For the Love of Cupcakes – Valentine Decorating.

As a thank you for your continued support, after you’ve taken 5 classes in 2022, your 6th one is a gift from Flying Aprons Tucson. No need for you to keep track, we’ll take care of that.

Wishing you joy in the kitchen,

Cheese Soufflé
Serves 6-8

3 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
8 large egg white
1 cup grated cheese – a combination of Swiss and Parmesan or a sharp cheddar or French Roquefort
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt

1. Heat oven to 400°F.
2. Prepare an 8 cup (2 quart) soufflé dish: Tear a piece of parchment or wax paper large enough to encircle the dish and allow a 2-inch overlap. Fold paper in half lengthwise. Make a ½-inch fold at folded edge for additional rigidity. Butter and flour the top third of the paper and inside of the dish. Tie paper around the dish using kitchen twine.
3. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. When butter is hot and foaming, remove from the heat. Add flour, stirring with a wooden spoon. Return pan to a moderate heat and cook butter and flour for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, whisking to form a smooth sauce. Remove from heat and add yolks one at a time, whisking to combine.
4. Stir in cheese, mustard, nutmeg and pepper.
5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add salt to the egg whites and beat until foaming, then add cream of tartar and beat until stiff.
6. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold cheese mixture into egg whites. Every turn of the spatula slightly deflates the mixture.
7. Carefully pile the soufflé into prepared dish, make a circle about 1-inch deep in the center of the dish and place in the middle of the oven, then immediately reduce heat to 375°F. Bake 25 minutes. After baking, remove collar. Bring to the table and spread soufflé apart with two spoons, allowing steam to escape. Serve immediately.

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