A chocolate soufflé is one of those desserts that can inspire both fear and wonder.  You are warned of a lengthy wait if you order one in a restaurant, though the warning is accompanied with an implicit promise that your patients will be rewarded.   And, everyone has heard of the inevitable collapse caused by a slamming door or dropped pot.  Soufflés are finicky and temperamental, only to be attempted by the culinary expert or adventurer, at least that is what some would have you believe.  But the reality is quite the opposite.  I am here to tell you my friends that if you have an oven and a whisk, you can make a chocolate soufflé.

Melting the Chocolate and Butter

I have cooked chocolate soufflés for virtually everyone I know.  I have taken them to dinner parties and made them at a beach house.  My little red ramekins have been around and will continue to see a lot of action.  Chocolate soufflés are such a standby that I have to remind myself that I need to expand my horizons if only for the sake of my guests who quite likely believe I don’t know how to cook anything else.   That said I have never been disappointed by the result.  I’m no baker but these little chocolate treasures are close to perfect and as fool-proof a recipe as there is.

Chocolate Soufflés

Yields 6

  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 6 tbps unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 6 tbps flour

Melt butter and chocolate together in a double boiler.  Remove from heat and let cool to luke warm.

With electric mixer whip eggs, egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla until they are pale yellow and form ribbons.  It will take 5 to 6 minutes or more longer with a whisk.

Sift flour over eggs and fold in.  Gently fold in chocolate.

Fold in the Chocolate

Pour batter into buttered ramekins.  Cover each with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Little red ramekins ready for the oven

Bake at 400o for 18 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Shhh... be very still and quiet... just kidding

You can serve your soufflé with whipped cream or ice cream or dress them up with a dusting of icing sugar.   I prefer mine served with a spoon.

These soufflés have a light cakey exterior and a rich gooey centre.   The basic recipe is perfect in its simplicity but lends itself to embellishment.  A dash of almond or hazelnut extract is a great addition.  A tablespoon of rum or brandy is nice touch too.  I haven’t tried it, but my guess is a splash of Grand Marnier would be awesome.  The most important ingredient is your imagination.

Warm, creamy and chocolatey

This is the perfect make-ahead dessert.  You can mix them up the day before or even throw them in the freezer for a week.  Just add a minute to the cooking time if you’re starting with a frozen soufflé.  Like so many of the French classics the soufflé has been ascribed with almost mystical qualities.  But I want the moral of this story to be “don’t be afraid of the soufflé.”  They are not finicky or temperamental.  There is no magic and no secret society of soufflé chefs.  The only “secret” is the air you whip into the eggs.

Bon appétit.