Every now and again I really get in the mood to make a soufflé. It’s a dish we both enjoy and one I love to prepare and serve. I haven’t made one in a while and I told the husband that he should expect one soon for dinner. At this point I am not sure what kind of soufflé I will be making but I thought I would share some general tips for making a souffle ahead of the actual recipe.
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Tips for Making a Souffle
A souffle is magic. OK, maybe not magic but it does certainly taste heavenly. While one must take care when making one, there is no reason why anyone can’t make a delicious cheese souffle. It’s a good starting point for learning how to make these light and airy concoctions. As with anything built on whipped eggs, the less you handle them the better.
For a classic souffle you separate the eggs. Then you make a basic white sauce to which you add the flavorings of the souffle be it cheese or finely chopped shrimp. Whatever you are using, you don’t want it to be too heavy as it could weigh down your souffle. Then you whip the whites with a bit of cream of tartar to stiff peaks. At this point the whites are carefully folded into the base – you don’t want to lose all of that air.
After the ingredients are folded together they are gently poured into a greased souffle dish and baked. This is where the magic happens and your recipe will rise in the oven so that (hopefully) when you pull it out you will have that WOW moment. It doesn’t last long as a souffle does start to deflate almost immediately.
So what can you do to ensure a well made souffle?
- Make sure your eggs are well separated – no yolks in the white
- If you are adding a meat or seafood, be sure that it is chopped very fine
- When you add the cheese to the base sauce, be sure it fully melts into the sauce
- Take your time folding the yolks into the white sauce
- And likewise be gentle folding the whites into the yolk/sauce mixture. The more air your retain the better your souffle will be
- Always preheat the oven
- Add a foil sleeve around your souffle dish to help the souffle climb – be sure to grease it so it is easy to remove without collapsing your souffle
Successful Souffle Making
As you can see from the photo above, adding shrimp can result in a light, airy, delicious souffle. If you follow the recipe for shrimp souffle you end up with a delightful dish with a very tasty sauce. Of course one can forgo the sauce but I love it. All you need is a salad and you are ready for dinner. So far this has been my favorite of all the souffles I have made.
I have also found a souffle to be a wonderful vehicle for using up leftovers. If you have a little of meat leftover you can use it to flavor your souffle as I did in my ham and cheese souffle. When we lived on our little farm and it was corn season I often had leftover corn on the cob. Sometimes it went into a salad but it also ended up in a bacon and corn souffle. A little imagination and you have a brand new dinner.
While I have made many a dinner souffle I have only made a dessert souffle once. I can’t answer as to why and I suppose I should experiment further with the sweet side of this eggy dish. The one I tried was a classic chocolate souffle for two. Obviously a wonderful dessert to serve for a special meal at home. I am definitely going to have to try some more of these. When it comes to the sweet souffles there are some tips that help with them:
- with a chocolate souffle, after you butter the ramekin dust the it with cocoa powder
- serve with some fruit to offer a flavor and texture balance
- use a high quality chocolate since it is the main flavor. You want your souffle to sing
- chocolate souffles can be made up to 24hrs ahead which does help with meal planning
Are You Ready to Souffle?
From small, individual souffles like the cauliflower thyme souffle pictured above – a showy side dish for a celebration dinner to the perfect chocolate souffle for dessert this French favorite can certainly add a special something to your meals. Whether that meal is a special occasion or just a weeknight you want to elevate why not try something different – like the night I tried and succeeded at making pizza souffle. You read that correctly! At best you have a fun and different meal. At worst you have fancy scrambled eggs.
What Equipment do You Need to Make a Souffle?
It’s not a long list but the most important thing is, of course, a souffle dish. I have this very simple 2 quart souffle dish (click the link, yes it’s an affiliate link. But I do love this dish.) If you don’t want to click the link you can see it in the photo above – the white dish. The red ones are much smaller, individual souffle dishes. Which are also very nice to have if you want to give your guests their own souffle.
You will also need a mixer; this can be a stand mixer or a hand mixer. It’s helpful to have one of each because you have whip both whites and yolks. If you only have one whip the whites first because you can’t get anything in the whites for them to whip effectively but if you reuse the beater to whip the yolks and there is some whites left on it, that won’t bother the yolks.
The souffle base has to be cooked so you will need a 2 quart saucepan. Aluminum foil to surround the souffle dish. I also recommend placing the dish on a baking sheet in case something goes very, very wrong and it overflows. Better to have that happen onto a baking sheet than your oven floor!
If you would like to further explore all the possibilities that souffles can offer there are any number of souffle cookbooks available. I don’t know anything about the ones I am listing below as I have used the basic souffle recipe in my good ole Betty Crocker Cookbook and then worked from there. But now I am intrigued and I will be putting a couple of these on my gift list for sure:
I hope this post has offered some help and inspiration for making these delicious egg based delights. They are not hard, you just have to pay attention to what you are doing. So go forth and souffle!