A puffy, delicate, light-as-air creation. Savory or sweet, hot or cold, soufflés are sensational and impressive whether served as a main dish, accompaniment or dessert.
Strictly speaking, a true soufflé consists of a thick white sauce blended with beaten egg yolks and leavened by stiffly beaten whites. It may also contain pureed, shredded or finely chopped meat, poultry, fish, seafood, cheese or vegetables, and is always served hot. You can substitute a condensed cream soup or quick-cooking tapioca cooked in milk for the white sauce. For sweet or dessert soufflés, you can add sugar to the sauce.
Like many skills, making a successful soufflé is easy when you know how. A mastery of the following basics will have you turning out soufflés with the best of them.
If you don’t have a traditional soufflé dish, use a straight-sided casserole dish or even a straight –sided uncoated saucepan of the proper size. For individual servings, you can use large custard cups or ovenproof coffee or soup mugs. As it bakes, the soufflé will increase in volume 2 to 3 times, so container size is important. If the container is too large, the mixture will not rise above the rim and have the lofty look that is part of a soufflé’s charm. If the container is too small, the mixture may run over. Usually a 4-egg soufflé will fit a 1 1/2- to 2-quart container. Use a 2- to 2 1/2-quart container for a 6-egg soufflé. You can fill the container to within 1/2 inch of the top.
A soufflé needs to cling to the sides of the container to reach its maximum height. So, don’t butter the container unless you also lightly dust the buttered bottom and sides of the container with grated Parmesan cheese, cornmeal or very fine, dry bread crumbs, which will lend flavor and a nice crusty texture. For dessert soufflés, you can dust with sugar, finely chopped nuts or cookie crumbs, if you like.
If your container is a tad too small or your beating and folding skills are exceptional, you can fit a collar around the top of the container to keep the soufflé in bounds. Make a 4-inch band of triple- thickness aluminum foil long enough to go around the container and overlap 2 inches. Butter and dust the band. Wrap the band around the outside of the dish with the dusted side in and fasten it with strong masking tape or string. The collar should extend at least 2 inches above the rim of the container.
Click here for a Basic Savory Soufflé recipe.