This week, we’re sharing a recipe to share (or not to share) with your Valentine: Chocolate Soufflé.
Dating back to 18th-century France, its name derived from the word souffler — meaning "to breathe" or "to blow,” a soufflé is a baked egg dish made with an egg yolk custard that gets combined with beaten egg whites to help give the soufflé its signature puff.
How does it puff, you ask? Science. Egg whites are made up of about 90% water and 10% protein. According to Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter — as seen in the Smithsonian article "Soufflés: The Original Molecular Gastronomy?" — the proteins contain hydrophobic, or water-fearing, regions that usually curl up to avoid interacting with the water. When the egg whites are whisked, however, air bubbles are incorporated, and those tightly curled regions begin to unfold, knocking against the air bubbles and forming a protective layer, or foam, around the air. When baked, the airy mixture provides lift to the dish.
The light and ethereal textural wonder can be made sweet or savory, with popular variations ranging from cheese and spinach to chocolate and lemon. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we’re going with the chocolate.
This recipe, from chef Emeril Lagasse, incorporates good-quality bittersweet chocolate and some Grand Marnier for good measure.
Ingredients yields 4 servings
2 teaspoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 large egg whites
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 4 individual ramekins. Sprinkle each ramekin with 1 teaspoon sugar.
In a large metal bowl, set over a pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate, whisking it occasionally. Remove the bowl from the heat.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites with 1/4 cup of the sugar until stiff and glossy. Whisk the egg yolks into the chocolate one at a time, add the Grand Marnier, and whisk in the remaining sugar. Fold in the egg whites and blend until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared ramekins.
Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until soufflés are puffed and somewhat firm, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and serve with the chocolate sauce and powdered sugar.