To create the perfect soufflé, it helps to understand the science behind it.
Egg whites are made entirely of protein, while egg yolks contain a mixture of both protein and fat. When you beat egg whites, you are mixing air into the mixture, and the protein from the egg whites forms a skin around the air bubbles. As the soufflé bakes, the heat causes the air captured in the egg whites to expand, creating the puff. When the soufflé comes out of the oven and begins to cool, the air contracts and the soufflé begins to deflate.
Simply put, the rise and fall of your soufflé comes down to the egg whites.
With this in mind, it is important to make sure there is no egg yolk in your whites. The fat from the yolks prevents the air packets from forming, which will allow the air to leak away.
The perfect soufflé is also a matter of architecture. The air bubbles in the egg whites need to be pure, but they also need to be small and sturdy. A little salt and cream of tartar adds to the structural integrity of the air bubbles. A little sugar also helps the egg whites to adhere, and rise evenly and firmly. Baking from the bottom shelf of the oven will help the soufflé rise and expand quicker, creating a taller structure.
Speaking of height, the creation of proper scaffolding is another important architectural step. Buttering the ramekins, and applying an even sugar coating, offers the egg whites a sort of lattice, from which to climb while baking. If the coating is too thin or contains gaps, the soufflé mixture will stick in spots, and rise unevenly. Refrigerating the buttered ramekins, until needed, will prevent the butter from sliding, and also help create an even and uniform structure.
With the exception of the raspberry purée, the recipe for the white chocolate soufflé is – I’m proud to say – entirely my own. The inspiration came from necessity, confronted with several ounces of leftover white chocolate (see Graveyard Brownies). After a few tries, this is what I came up with.
White Chocolate Soufflé with Pistachios and Raspberry Purée
WHAT TO GRAB:
2 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing
2-3 ounces white chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons sugar, divided, plus extra for dusting
3 tablespoons cake flour
1/4 cup milk, lightly heated
2 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 to 4 teaspoons pistachios, chopped (optional)
FOR THE RASPBERRY SAUCE:
1 cup of fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and preheat a saucepan over low-medium heat. Generously butter two 6-ounce ramekins, and dust the bottom and sides of the dish with sugar. Refrigerate the ramekins until ready.
2. In the saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Once the butter is almost melted, whisk in the chocolate. Whisk in the cake flour, stirring constantly for one minute. Whisk in the milk, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes thick and looks like a custard. Remove from the heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons of sugar and the egg yolks.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the salt and cream of tartar, and continue beating until soft peaks form. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating just until stiff, glossy peaks form. Roughly three to five minutes of beating.
4. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture in batches, one-quarter of the mixture at a time. Spoon the combined mixture into the ramekins, stopping just below the top.
4.5 (optional). Top with the chopped pistachios for extra color. (Recently, I’ve begun to prefer the soufflés without the nuts).
5. Bake at 375, for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not peak until at least 20 minutes have passed.
6. While the soufflés bake, purée the raspberries. Run the purée through a sieve, discarding the seeds. This may require some shoving on your part). Add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the raspberry purée and pour the sauce into individual cream pitchers.
7. Slash each soufflé with a spoon and pour in the sauce! Or serve without – they’ll be just as good!!