What is a Soufflé?
A Chocolate Soufflé or Soufflé is a hot dish that is served straight from the oven and is well risen above the height of the mold, with a light and airy texture. There are two basic types of soufflé, savory, which are served as a starter or light meals, and sweet soufflés, which are served as desserts. The name for this signature French dish is a derivative of the French verb “souffler,” which means “to blow” or “to inflate.”
Savory soufflés are made from a thick béchamel sauce or a purée, bound with egg yolks, to which are then added stiffly whisked egg whites.
Sweet soufflés like the Chocolate Soufflé are based on a fruit purée or a milk mixture which are then cooked with egg yolks to a custard or pastry cream, before folding in stiffly whisked egg whites.
So a Chocolate Soufflé or Soufflé has always two main components, a base enriched with egg yolks and glossy beaten egg whites, which are folded in the mixture just before going to the oven, which results in the airy and light texture of this magical dish.
The History of Soufflé
Although the first mention of a recipe for soufflé appeared in 1742 by the French Master Cook La Chapelle, it is the father of French haute cuisine, Marie-Antoine Carême, who perfected and made the soufflé popular.
Initially, Carême maid his soufflés in pastry casings, but soon developed specially made molds and vessels with straight sides, to secure a taller rise. Later when Auguste Escoffier, who was famous for modernizing and simplifying the French haute cuisine, published his “Le Guide Culinaire” in 1903, already more than 60 soufflé variations were commonly known, including with foie gras, Parmesan cheese, pheasant, poached eggs, or tangerine and hazelnut.
Until today the perfect soufflé and also the Chocolate Soufflé is very present in modern french cooking and although many chefs may interpret their version of the classic soufflé, the origin still goes back to these classic recipes of french haute cuisine.
Preparing Soufflé in advance
You may think it is difficult to put a soufflé on your menu as a cook, but when well organized it is easier than you think and for sure makes a great impression on the guests of your restaurant.
It doesn’t matter if you want to make a sweet or a savory soufflé, the theory is always the same. Like mentioned before the soufflé consists of two parts, the base, and the beaten egg whites. The base of a soufflé can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge for up to one week.
The same counts for you at home if you want to prepare soufflé for your guests in advance and spend more time at the table with your friends instead of spending the night in the kitchen on your own.
So once you prepared the base just keep it in the fridge and before beating the egg whites take it out of the fridge and then fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Like that the whole procedure is really quick and doesn’t need a lot of your attention, but the magical effect when the soufflés come out of the oven and are served to the table, remains the same.
The perfect sauce for a sweet Chocolate Soufflé
Although it depends a lot on your taste and liking which sauce to serve your sweet Chocolate Soufflé with, there is one classic sauce that combines perfectly, and that’s crème anglaise.
This silky and smooth vanilla sauce combines with a lot of desserts but is just perfect with a chocolate soufflé. Of course, also ice cream is always a good option, but this sauce is very easy and quick to prepare, and by the way, why not go for both?
Crème anglaise is a custard made with milk, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla beans, and is then cooked to 83ºC or until thick enough that it coats the back of a spoon.
Chocolate Soufflé Recipe
- 8 ramekins with smooth inside
- kitchen scale
- thermometer (for the sauce)
- fine sieve (for the sauce)
For the chocolate soufflé
- 250 g milk
- 110 g granulated sugar plus some more to coat the ramekins
- 30 g butter plus some more to coat the ramekins
- 20 g flour
- 10 g corn starch maizena
- 150 g dark chocolate 70%
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 egg whites
- 2 g fine salt
For the sauce
- 125 g milk
- 125 g cream
- 50 g granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 4 egg yolks
- If you want to serve the soufflé with the sauce, make the sauce first, before starting with the soufflé.
To make the chocolate soufflé
- Preheat the oven to 190 °C
- Coat the inside of each ramekin thoroughly with butter. Add a little bit of granulated sugar and turn the ramekin to its side and rotate it to allow the sugar to stick to all the buttered surfaces. Pass the sugar from one ramekin to another, until all the ramekins are coated with butter and sugar. Place the ramekins in the fridge while you prepare the soufflé dough.
- In a pot combine 250g of milk, 70g of granulated sugar, 20g of flour, 10g of corn starch and 30g of butter. Before heating up this mixture, whisk everything until the flour and cornstarch are well dissolved in the liquid (like this the flour will not form lumps).
- Heat up the mixture and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes until the mixture has a thick, gummy texture, stirring constantly with a whisk or a spatula.
- Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until melted and well incorporated.
- Now add the egg yolks to the mixture and stir until well incorporated.
- This is the base of the soufflé, if you don't want to bake them straight away, you can save the base in the fridge until up to one week. Make sure to cover the mixture with film on contact (sticking to the surface).
- Add 2g of salt to the egg whites and with a whisk start beating the egg whites. Once the egg whites start to build a foam, add 40g of sugar and continue to whisk until the egg whites form stiff, glossy peaks.
- Gradually (in 3 stages) and gently fold the stiff egg whites into the soufflé base.
- Fill the ramekins to the very top. If you put in too much remove the excess batter with the back of a knife, creating an even surface. Wipe clean any excess batter off the sides (In order to rise nicely it is very important that the rim stays completely clean otherwise the dough will stick to the side while baking).
- Place the ramekins on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes until they have risen nicely.
For the sauce (crème anglaise)
- Cut the vanilla bean in small pieces and put together with the milk and the cream into a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
- In a bowl mix the egg yolks and the sugar and whisk until creamy.
- When the milk comes to a boil, take from the heat and pour a little into the yolk mixture, whisking until combined.
- Pour this mixture back into the saucepan together with the rest of the liquid.
- Heat up the mixture again, stirring constantly until the custard reaches 83 °C. If you don't have a thermometer, simply check for consistency. Draw a line with your finger on the back of a spoon through the custard and if the line stays visible the custard is ready.
- Strain the mixture through a sieve and cool down.