Showstopping Chocolate Soufflés With Claire Saffitz | NYT Cooking

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So stiff peaks are what are going to give you the best. Oh my God. Sorry in my stand, mixer that’s the release button God, depending on having a problem with these sorry, oh my God: disaster: okay, everyone, I’m Claire staffords, on this episode of try this at home, I’m showing you a classic of French baking. It is the chocolate souffle, it is a relatively simple dish: there’s just lots of little technique here and there that will help ensure that you have really light High, Rising souffles. So I’m very excited to show you the recipe today.

So souffles can be sweet or savory and they are basically a mixture of like a flavored base and beaten egg whites and so the egg whites light in the mixture and what happens as they bake is that there’s tiny little air bubbles in these beaten, egg, whites And as they bake all the little bubbles expand and the souffle mixture Rises and becomes like super light and Airy. Souffles are inherently like an ephemeral creation, because egg white foam is sort of unstable, so they will start to deflate and fall like basically right as you take them out of the oven.

So there’s something you want to serve right away, but really what I’m going to do is walk you through the whole process. I’M going to really go through the kind of the finer points of beating egg whites, how to know when they’re at the right stage, so that you can get a high Rising souffle, whether you’re, making chocolate or any other kind. In my experience, it’s better to make individual souffles, rather than one large one.

They just tend to rise more evenly. You have like better air circulation and more even heating throughout, so the recipe makes four souffles and when I was developing the recipe, which is it’s actually in my new book called what’s for dessert, I was thinking about like what is the optimal number of souffles to Make and I set it on four because I think for people at home, if they’re not like a super experienced home Baker, four is more manageable because it’s something you want to serve right out of the oven and you also want to get into the oven really Quickly, I have some room temperature butter, so we want to butter the ramekins pretty well to prevent sticking and to that point I want to butter all the way around the rim so make sure you’re buttering to the very very top.

Now, ramekins typically have this little Ridge around the lip and that’s designed for making souffles, and you want to make sure that you’re getting the butter all the way into that Groove all the way around. It has a tendency to Anchor itself around the very edge if it’s not well greased and what happens in the oven as it as it starts to bake. It sets and you get a souffle that domes rather than a souffle, with a flat top and straight sides.

So that’s what we’re going for is that, like dramatic, like miraculous restaurant, like everyone gasps kind of moment when you take it out of the oven, so once you have an even coating all the way around take your pastry brush and you are going to do upward. Strokes, starting at the very base of the Ramekin, all the way up to the lip, and it’s these upward Strokes that create like little striations in the butter and that helps to encourage the batter of the souffles to rise upward as it bakes in the oven.

We’Re also going to Sugar them so that layer of sugar also creates like a surface for that batter to cling to so. The combination of the sugared surface and those upward Strokes helps to guarantee a high Rising souffle. So it’s important that you do this step.

First with the ramekins, because once you start to beat the egg whites and incorporate them into your base, there’s no stopping point and so like as soon as that egg white comes into contact with the base which has that fat in it. It’S going to want to deflate so you don’t want to have to then like, oh no, I I forgot to do my ramekins and put that aside and then go ahead and butter them. So this is just a good thing to get out of the way. I’M going to add my sugar, I’m just going to sprinkle like a tablespoon or so into one of the ramekins, shake it around and then tilt it and rotate, because you want just full coverage of the sugar and then tap out the excess. So I’m just tapping out into the next Ramekin we’re making a sweet souffle.

So I’m using sugar – and it’s like you, know, granulated sugar crystals are sharp, and so it does create a nice surface for the batter to grip onto um for Savory souffles, you’ll, often see with bread crumbs or even like grated grated hard cheese like parmesan or something Like that, so the same, the same principle applies: it’s just not sugar, okay, so those are they’re prepared, ramekins, I’m going to set them aside on a sheet tray, and I like to put them on like a large Rim, baking sheet. This is just a half sheet.

Pan because it benefits the souffles to have like lots of air circulation around them, so you don’t want to bake them like this. You want to bake them, spread out a little bit. So I’m going to set these aside all right, and now I’m going to separate my eggs and move on to making our chocolate base there’s a slightly easier version of chocolate souffle which I’ve made before in which there’s no flour.

It’S just melted. Chocolate like that is the base. Then you, you know whisk in your egg yolks and you fold in your egg whites, then that’s it and it’s great. It has wonderful, like concentrated chocolate flavor, but it’s really unstable, like you pull those souffles out of the oven. They collapse in two seconds.

I found that adding just a couple of tablespoons of flour to the base really does help to create nice structure in the souffles, and it doesn’t compromise the flavor. It doesn’t mute the chocolateiness or anything like that. So I’m using three yolks and five egg whites. So I’m going to separate my eggs and it’s easier to separate eggs when they’re cold. These are like nearly room temp, but you want to beat the egg whites when they’re room temp.

So you can go ahead and separate them ahead of time and then let them let the egg whites come to room temperature on their own. The other ingredients that I have for souffle are like very straightforward. So we have eggs more sugar, a little bit of milk chopped up dark chocolate. I wouldn’t use like a super super bittersweet chocolate for this, because I think there’s not a lot of sugar in the recipe. It’S not overly sweet, so use something between like 60 and 70 percent cocoa powder, a little bit of flour, a little bit of coffee just to enhance and bump up the chocolate, flavor, vanilla, extract and salt.

So like really basic stuff. So I’m going to start by cooking my base so because we’re only making four we’re dealing in relatively small quantities. Here I have a saucepan with a little bit of water in it, maybe like between a half inch and one inch, I’m using a double boiler, because just in even a small saucepan, it’s very easy to overcook. This, a double boiler is sometimes called like a bemery. Is the actual piece of equipment where you have like a pot that sits on top of another pot and there’s boiling water underneath or simmering water?

Most people don’t have that. So we just use a heat proof bowl that we set on top of a saucepan of simmering water or even just below a simmer, not boiling, because that will get too hot and I’m using a glass bowl so that you can see everything that’s going on. But generally in a double boiler: metal is better because there’s more effective heat transfer and it heats up and cools down more quickly. I’M going to start with two of my yolks, the third one I’m going to whisk in at the end, so it’s not cooked. Then I have my sugar.

I have seven tablespoons of sugar, that’s just under a half cup. I think again it’s not like an overly sweet chocolate dessert, I’m going to use some of it in my base and then I’m going to use four tablespoons for beating the egg whites. I tried making this recipe without the double boiler, but it’s just such a small quantity of everything that it was just too easy to overcook and then the benefit of doing it. This way, too, is that you can you take it off the double boiler. You let it cool in the bowl and then you beat the egg whites and you can mix everything right in the same bowl, and this is a step.

That’S called blanching eggs. It comes from the French word blush here, which means like to whiten or to bleach, and it just means that we’re like lightening the mixture. You don’t want to do this in advance, really, because if you leave sugar and egg yolks in contact with one another for too long, it can create like little hardened bits that will never dissolve in the pastry cream or the base. So so this looks good. It’S nice and thick and light you can see it’s gotten pretty pale.

So next I’m going to whisk in my milk and you want to whisk and scrape the sides of the bowl. You know you want everything. Well Incorporated, you don’t want any egg trapped anywhere. Then my coffee again, the coffee is just there to like bring out that chocolate. Flavor, it’s really complimentary.

So, in goes the flour when you’re, adding dry ingredients into wet, it’s pretty easy to form, lumps so make sure you’re stirring, constantly the Whisk, with the addition of flour, which can sometimes mute some of that chocolate flavor the cocoa, I think, helps to like really give It that flavored base the cocoa gives it like a really deep chocolate, flavor, and I think the chopped chocolate obviously makes it more chocolatey, but also gives it like a really kind of silky texture.

So here I have this smooth mixture. My water is it’s at a high simmer, so I’m going to turn it down a little bit see it’s steaming, that’s what we want and this is going to go. The bowl is going to go right on top of the water, and I am going to sit here and whisk it constantly and what’s going to happen, is the temperature will increase the starch in the flour will kind of activate and thicken the mixture. I also want to cook the egg yolks a little bit so there’s a little bit of a subtle change here in terms of the texture of this mixture.

The consistency generally will kind of look like a thin pancake batter, okay, so this is about done. It looks a little bit darker and any foam that accumulated while I was whisking it in the beginning has really subsided and it’s kind of faintly holding the marks of the Whisk. If you want to be really certain that you’re hitting the right end point, you could stick like an instant re-thermometer in there and it should be around 170 to 180 Okay, so I’m going to pull this off remember, especially if you have a metal bowl that this is going to be hot, because I’m working in glass – it’s actually not so bad.

So now we’re going to incorporate our chocolate because chocolate is temperature sensitive. I don’t really want to like cook it over the heat, so I’m just going to add that in give it a quick whisk to incorporate and all the heat from that base will slowly and gently melt the chocolate so go ahead and whisk this to smooth it Out – and you can see all that chocolate is melting and it’s also thickening it quite a bit.

It’S dropping the temperature. So now it kind of looks like brownie batter, so I’m going to add my vanilla extract. I think it’s like a teaspoon and now my final yolk. So the reason we don’t add the yolk until this point is because I don’t want to cook, I don’t want to scramble it. You can see that yolk makes it like super glossy and beautiful, adding like the yolk, and the little bit of liquid from the vanilla extract, helps to give it the right consistency.

So I’m starting in a large, clean Bowl, make sure there’s no fat residue anywhere. So I have a note in the recipe that says like don’t use a plastic Bowl, even though it’s clean, like you, can scrub it out even put in the dishwasher, but it still tends to retain like a very, very thin residue of fat. And so it’s just not great for whipping egg whites. So again I have my five egg: whites room temperature room temperature. Egg whites tend to whip up better than cold ones, so into the bowl.

I’M using diamond crystal kosher salt. So I have a teaspoon if you’re using Morton use about half that amount, because it’s saltier than diamond crystal so salt is a great tool for whipping egg whites because it also contributes stability. So that’s going to go in, doesn’t make it salty, but it helps to really bring out the flavor of the chocolate. So then I have my remaining four tablespoons of sugar right here now, the key to whipping up a stable egg foam. It is to gradually add your sugar, oh my God that I started hot and then that’s low.

That’S speed! One. I’Ve used a lot of different hand mixers a lot of different ones. Okay, so the first thing we want to do when we’re beating egg whites is to start them off on low and just to break them up. Have you ever noticed if you like, crack an egg that the egg white, especially if it’s fresh, will like hold together in a little like Dome, almost like it has sort of structure to it?

So we just want to break everything up. Then you can increase the speed to something more like medium, so I’m gon na beat these now until they start to look opaque and foamy and white. They go from that, like yellow translucent color of raw egg yolks to like snowy white, and you tend to get a more stable egg foam. If you wait until you have this frothy white, opaque mixture and then begin to add the sugar, so you can see they’re transforming a little bit okay. So now I’m going to start to add my remaining sugar and I really want to let the sugar crystals Cascade into the bowl in like a very thin layer.

So I want to add the sugar really really slowly and I want to allow the egg whites to whip pretty slowly as well. So I’m not really going above like medium speed. So take your time here so once you’ve added all of the sugar, you can go ahead and increase the mixer speed to like medium high okay. So we are going to beat this until we have stiff peaks right now. We are at soft peaks somewhere between soft and medium.

So that means that when I lift up the Beaters or if it’s a spatula or spoon whatever the egg white is droopy and it like holds its shape and amount a little bit, it doesn’t just like fall back onto the surface. So it’s not liquid, but these little droopy Mounds, that is soft peaks and you don’t want to over beat so that’s a really important part of the recipe is overbeaten. Egg whites tend to get grainy and almost like Curdy looking and they’re really hard to incorporate into anything foreign you’ll notice that the mixture is like holding really sharp lines as the beaters move through it. So that’s an indication you can see that they’re. Looking dense, they’re looking glossy all right see when I lift up the beaters, see those little Peaks at the ends of the beaters.

Together pointed straight up, we have stiff peaks, so it’s important that you beat to stiff peaks because you want like all of that air in the egg whites and you want this mixer to be firm. So I’m going to start by adding about a third of this mixture to the chocolate base. You can see that this is a really thick mixture. So what happens when you’re incorporating something really light like this into something kind of firm like this? Is that first edition of egg whites is kind of like the sacrificial addition, because it’s much easier to incorporate two things together when they’re of similar texture?

So the first edition really just goes to lightening the chocolate. So I’m going to scrape in about a third for that sort of like sacrificial addition, I’m just going to whisk the egg whites into the base. Okay, just until it’s smooth now, I’m going to add the remaining egg whites in two additions. So now I’m going to use a folding motion and I’m not using the Whisk I’m using a spatula folding is a mixing technique. That’S very gentle!

So it’s often used to like preserve the volume of a mixture like whipped, cream or beaten egg whites. You take a spatula, it’s good to use a flexible spatula like this, and you scrape down along the side across the bottom of the bowl and then flip it over to the top. So I have just a couple streaks remaining, I’m going to add my remaining egg. Whites, so I’m going to fold this in now, so you do not want to over mix over mixing will cause the egg whites to deflate, not the end of the world. You just won’t have souffles that are as light but they’ll still taste amazing, but the less mixing the taller you souffles will be so once you have just like a streak or two remaining you’re good.

Now I’m going to fill my ramekins so now to fill the souffles it’s easier to work over the bowl. It’S a little less messy. This part can get kind of messy, so the trick to a really high tall souffle is to completely fill the Ramekin. So that’s what I’m going to do here and when I say that I mean like all the way to the very very top again. Another reason why we buttered the rim completely so try to avoid big streaks of batter on the outside of the ramekins.

But it’s not a big deal and you can just wipe it off at the end. Now, depending on how much you beat the egg whites, you might have not quite enough batter or you might have like a little extra. So if you under beat them, you won’t have as much volume and you might not even be able to totally fill all the ramekins. That’S okay! Now I’m going to do a really important step, which is leveling the souffles.

I have a little offset spatula and I’m going to scrape off using kind of a quick motion and smooth the surface of the souffles so that I have this really level top. So now I have totally level souffles now. The next step is to sprinkle the tops with sugar, so I have just a little extra granulated sugar here and I want to do kind of a just, an even layer. You don’t have to be like terribly generous, but I found that a little sugar on top not only creates a nice kind of crunchy texture, but it also, I think, encourages you know like to not Dome to stay really flat. There’S another important step right before we bake, which is running your finger around the inner like lip of the Ramekin, and you saw that little indentation at the top.

So you’re going to use that as your guide and I’m basically going to wipe away a little ring of batter from the outsides of the Ramekin. So removing that bit of batter from the very top of the Ramekin prevents sticking. And it is again going to help ensure that they rise really really tall and I’m not like wiping really aggressively. I don’t really want to take off like the butter that I put on there. I just want to create a little bit of space between the batter and the Ramekin, so I’m going to give these a little wipe, but then I want to work quickly.

I want to try to get these into the oven as soon as possible. It’S so messy! Sorry, all right, so the oven is on 425 As soon as I put them in, I want to drop the temperature down to 375.. So souffles benefit from like a little bit of a blast of heat right as they go into the oven, because that will kick start the rise.

So that is going to quickly help to like heat the souffles through and those little air bubbles will expand and it will start its rise. But then we take it down to 375 because we want the souffles to also bake evenly. These need like enough time to bake through, so that I don’t have like an overcooked edge and a raw Center. So that’s why we go down to 375 and it has that kind of steady, more moderate heat to bake all the way through. Another reason why it’s better, I think, to make individual souffles than one enormous one, because you have more even baking.

I don’t want to look at right at it as it bakes it makes me. I mean I know they’re gon na be fine, but it just still makes me nervous. so 15 to 20 minutes is the time range. These have been going probably like 18 19 I think something like that and I think they’re about done. People should be sitting down spoons in hand when the souffles come out, because you are going to serve them immediately.

I’M going to pull them out so see how there’s a little bit of a wobble to them. That’S another donest indicator. You want a little bit of a wobble. You don’t want them to be like so done that they’re stiff and straight I mean these look amazing. These are some of the taller souffles that I’ve made they almost like more than doubled in height, which is impressive overall, like the rise is amazing.

The tops are really flat, they look so good, you know. What’S so crazy is like picking up the Ramekin it like. Almost weighs nothing all right. This doneness looks great. Oh, this looks really good and you can see like all the tiny little air bubbles in there.

Pops look a little bit crunchy from the sugar and then it almost like dissolves the central technique of souffle making is about whipping egg whites. Really it’s a technique that is so widely used in the whole realm of pastry and baking. So it’s super useful and once you get really good at it, one of the best applications is making souffles these sort of miraculous like ephemeral, incredibly delicious special dishes. There’S some things I love making, but I don’t love eating but souffle. It’S like it’s both.

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