Bittersweet Chocolate Souffle

This little love letter in a ramekin is the perfect way to say "I love you enough to learn what stiff peaks are" on Valentine's Day.

And in actuality, the ratio of difficulty to wow-factor is absolutely in your favor.  Have you had a chocolate souffle?  Have you made your own chocolate souffle?  Have you ever ended a blissfully romantic date by pulling (mostly prepped ahead) warm, airy, utterly decadent chocolate souffles out of the oven, whilst the room is filled with puffs of bittersweet chocolate love-air?

Or for that matter, have you ever taken a ten minute vacation, and sat alone on the couch eating your first warm chocolate souffle direct from the oven, without having to share one little bit of it. (highly recommended.)

This is absolutely a recipe that should be in your back pocket.  You can so do this, with just a few techniques to pay attention to.

First, the key to souffle success is air.  And the key to having enough air in the souffle to allow it to rise to delicate, puffy heights, is gentle folding.  Folding is the culinary technique in which two ingredients of different densities are carefully combined together to lighten the heavier of the two.

Here is a great quick video from Epicurious that demonstrates folding clearly: How to Fold Together Two Ingredients

The other culinary term to be aware of is stiff peaks.  As you are whipping egg whites, or whipped cream, it is the point at which if the whisk is lifted from the bowl it will come out with a pointy peak of egg whites on it that does not fall over or drip off the whisk.  But be careful, as you can go from stiff peaks to dry, grainy egg whites from over beating, in a very short amount of time.

A large part of this recipe can be prepared in advance, and they cook in about 15 minutes.  A very impressive, doable, delicious and warm sweet for your valentine...or just for yourself.


Makes 4 small individual souffles.

2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus more for coating the baking dishes
2 tablespoons flour (use cake flour, if available)
1/2 cup of milk
3 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 72%), chopped (not chocolate chips)
good pinch, about 1/8 teaspoon, salt
2 egg yolks
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
4 large egg whites

Additional softened butter and sugar to coat ramekins.

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.

Prepare the ramekins by coating evenly with softened butter, and then placing a few spoonfuls of sugar inside.  Rotate the ramekin, to coat the interior evenly with sugar.  Tap to remove any excess.  Repeat for all baking dishes, and refrigerate until needed.  Can be done up to 24 hours in advance.

In a small bowl, mash together the softened butter and flour until it is an evenly combined paste.

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add butter and flour mixture and whisk to combine.  Continue to cook for two minutes, stirring constantly.  The mixture will be very thick.

Remove from heat and stir in the chopped chocolate.  Stir until chocolate is melted and evenly combined.  Stir in the salt and vanilla.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, stirring until fully incorporated.  Transfer to a large bowl and spread out to cool.  This is your souffle base.  It can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for up to three days.

In a separate, very clean, bowl, whip egg whites on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.  (This can be done by hand, with a hand mixer, or a stand mixer).

Combine  a quarter of the egg whites with the chocolate mixture to lighten it to start.  Carefully add the remaining egg whites, in thirds, folding gently to combine. (see video above.) Resist the urge to tap the whisk or spatula on the edge of the bowl to get remaining ingredient off, as it will deflate the mixture.

Pour souffle batter into the prepared ramekins, up to the edge.  Slowly run your thumb just inside the top to remove the bit of batter that is touching the top edge, all the way around the circle.  This will help the edge of the souffle to not get stuck on the edge, and rise evenly.

Gently place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on size of container.  Souffles are done when they have risen above the edge of the dish, have a slightly firm dry top.  Serve immediately.

2 responses to “Bittersweet Chocolate Souffle”

  1. carolyn duke says:

    We have come to that part of winter when only chocolate will do, thanks Catie!!

  2. […] I adapted the following recipe from: http://pitchforkdiaries.com/2011/02/08/bittersweet-chocolate-souffle/ […]

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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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