This airy, rich dessert is easy to create
“Soufflés are the cooking equivalent of a high-wire act.” That statement, written in a make-ahead recipe book, is false. The truth is, they aren’t that hard to create.
We must ask ourselves before starting, what defines the perfect soufflé? Crusty exterior? Check. Dramatic rise? Check. An airy but substantial outer layer? Check. A rich, loose center that’s not completely set? Check.
A great soufflé also must convey a true mouthful of flavor. In the case of a chocolate soufflé, the chocolate high notes must be clear and strong.
Make ahead individual chocolate soufflés
6- or 8-ounce ramekins
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped coarse
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
6 large egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
8 large egg whites
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
For the ramekins
Grease the inside of the ramekins with the softened butter, then coat the inside of each dish evenly with the sugar.
For the soufflés
Melt the chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl set over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in salt, vanilla and liqueur, set aside.
Using an electric mixer, whip the yolks and the granulated sugar at medium speed until the mixture triples in volume and is thick and pale yellow, 5-8 minutes. Fold the yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture. Thoroughly clean and dry the mixing bowl and beaters.
Using the clean beaters, whip the egg whites on medium-low speed until frothy, 1-2 minutes. Add the cream of tartar, increase speed to medium-high, and whip until soft peaks form, 1-2 minutes.
Add the confectioners sugar and continue to whip at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 2-4 minutes (do not over whip). Whisk the last few strokes by hand, making sure to scrape any unwhipped whites from the bottom of the bowl.
Vigorously stir ¼ of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture until just incorporated. Carefully spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins to the rim, wiping the excess off the rim with a wet paper towel.
Cover each ramekin tightly with plastic wrap and then foil and freeze for at least 3 hours or up to 1 month. (Do not thaw before baking).
Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and heat oven to 400 F. Unwrap the ramekins and spread them out over a baking sheet. Bake until fragrant, fully risen and the exterior is set but the interior is loose and creamy, about 25 minutes. (To check the interior, use 2 spoons to pull open the drop of one and peek inside.) Serve immediately.
To serve right away:
After portioning the batter into the ramekins, bake as directed in step 7, reducing the baking time to 12-15 minutes.