Laurel Watson's soufflés: 3/5 | GOOD MORNING 2005 | TV ONE | tvnz.co.nz [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Laurel Watson's soufflés: 3/5
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You may be shocked to learn that making soufflés does not take a degree in science.
That is just one of the many illusions surrounding soufflés.

In actuality, soufflés can be made ahead of time and baked just before serving. They needn't be handled with kid gloves.

The key to making a decent soufflé is in the beating of the eggs. It is the egg whites that give the dish its renowned height: air trapped in the egg froth after whisking stays trapped; when heated, the air expands, causing the whole thing to puff up (the French verb "souffler" means "to blow"). And it's not a difficult process. The one trick is to make sure everything else is done before beating the whites, since you want as much trapped air as possible when you bake them.

Then there's the base, which gives the soufflé its flavour. The classic formula is this: sweet soufflés use a pastry cream as a base (basically a combination of milk, egg yolks, sugar, starch and flavouring); savoury ones use a béchamel (butter, flour, milk, egg yolks and flavouring). Both bases are simple; pastry cream can be combined with almost anything sweet or fruity, and béchamel can be paired with cheese, herbs or vegetables.

A couple of final notes before we start whisking: Soufflés can be frozen before baking (cover the mixture with plastic wrap) or can be held in a water bath (at 50C) for up to an hour before finishing in the oven). I used 1/4 cup dishes for these recipes; they can be doubled and baked in a larger soufflé moulds, but you'll need to bake it at 180 degrees for a couple more minutes, so that the outside doesn't burn.


A copper bowl is great for beating egg whites - just make sure it's clean. If you use a metal mixing bowl, make sure it's also scrupulously clean, and add just a little acid to the whites (cream of tartar or lemon juice). Never use Plastic!

Use a balloon whisk for whipping your whites, and really get some height in your motion when you do - you want to add as much air as possible to the mixture. For the sweet soufflés, gradually add the sugar when the whites are at their soft-peak stage (holding up your whisk, a peak should just barely stand up). Don't over-whisk; the whites should retain their glossiness and still be a little fluid.


Grand Marnier Soufflé

For moulds:

  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For soufflé:

  • 1 cup, milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier (or other liqueur)
  • 4 egg whites (at room temperature).
  • Heat the oven to 200 degrees.  Brush the moulds with the butter, coat with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and knock out any excess.


Bring the milk to a boil with the vanilla bean. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

Beat two of the yolks and the rest of the sugar until smooth and a lemony yellow colour, then stir in the sifted flour.

Slowly bring the milk to a simmer. Remove vanilla bean and return milk to a simmer. Slowly pour 1/3 of the hot milk over the egg mixture stirring constantly. Return the mixture to the remaining milk in the saucepan, return to a simmer and cook for a minute or two. (If the mixture is lumpy, strain it). Take it off the heat and add the Grand Marnier and stir. Allow to cool briefly.

Add the remaining yolk and stir.

Whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until glossy and soft peaks form.

Fold 1/4 to 1/3 of the whites into the pastry cream base until marbled. Add the remaining meringue and continue to fold gently.

Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared moulds to just under the rim (making sure there is no mixture clinging to the rim itself). Place the moulds on a baking tray and put in the centre of the oven. Bake for 11 minutes. Garnish with icing sugar. Serve immediately, with proper custard


Blue Cheese Soufflé

For moulds:

  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup flour (or breadcrumbs)

For soufflé:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 90g blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 1/8 cup milk
  • Pinch chilli powder
  • Pinch nutmeg (fresh if possible)
  • Pinch salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 egg whites
  • Pinch cream of tartar (if using an electric mixer).

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Brush the insides of the moulds with melted butter. Coat the insides with flour or breadcrumbs. Shake out the excess and keep the moulds in the refrigerator until needed.

Melt the butter over medium heat with half of the cheese. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Remove from heat.

In a separate saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer and add it to the butter-flour-cheese mixture. Put the mixture back on the heat and whisk it until it stiffens. Smooth the mixture by stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon. Add the chilli, nutmeg and salt to the sauce.

Beat the yolks in a bowl, then add a bit of the mixture to warm them a little. Combine the yolks and the sauce. Stir the mixture until it is smooth. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming and let cool.

If using an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites, put a pinch of cream of tartar into the whites before beating. Add a pinch of salt to the whites and start mixing slowly, then increase speed.  If beating by hand, whisk the whites until they are glossy and form stiff peaks.

Fold the rest of the cheese into the base, then gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the base until marbled, then fold in the remainder until smooth and worked together.
Fill the moulds to just under the rim. Place the soufflés on a baking tray and place them in the oven. They should cook for about 10 minutes.


Chocolate Soufflé

For moulds:

  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For soufflé:

  • 1 1/8 cup milk
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons amaretto or other liquor
  • 100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 5 egg whites (at room temperature).

Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Brush the soufflé moulds with the butter, coat with 1 tablespoon of sugar and knock out any excess. Refrigerate until needed.

Heat the milk over a medium-high heat, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the sugar and the cocoa powder, and whisk, making sure that the cocoa powder isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Beat the yolks and another 1 1/2 tablespoons of the sugar until smooth and a lemony yellow colour, then stir in the sifted cornflour.

Slightly warm the yolk mixture with 1/3 of the cocoa-milk mixture, then pour the mixture in with the milk, stirring over heat. Whisk until it comes to a boil. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the amaretto.
Push the mixture through a sieve over the chocolate. Stir well until the chocolate is melted.  Cover the mixture with plastic wrap so that a skin does not form, and allow to cool.

Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, gradually adding the last 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, while the mixture holds a soft peak.

Gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the base until marbled, then fold in the remainder until smooth and worked together.

Fill the moulds to just under the rim. (At this point, the soufflés can be held in a water bath before baking. It is important to keep the temperature of the water bath at about 50C. Soufflés may be held this way for up to an hour before baking.)
Bake the soufflés for about 11 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle with icing sugar. 


Make Ahead Cheese Soufflé

  • 125g butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 225g grated tasty cheese
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Pinch of chilli
  • 450 ml milk
  • 8 eggs, separated
  • Parmesan cheese

Brush 8x1 cup soufflé dishes or 1 large dish with extra melted butter and sprinkle with parmesan, knock out any excess.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and seasonings. Whisk in flour and cook for a minute.

Gradually whisk in the milk and bring to the boil.

Simmer sauce for 3 minutes then add the cheese and whisk until combined.

Cool sauce then whisk in the egg yolks.

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry.

Fold the whites through the sauce then pour into the soufflé dishes.

AT this point you can cover and chill them for 24 hours but remember to take them out of the fridge at least 20 mins before you cook them.

Pre heat oven to 230C.

Reduce heat to 200C and bake small soufflés for 10 mins and large one for 20-30 mins.
Serve with salad and a good tomato relish.

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