RECIPE: The I'm-not-afraid-of-soufflés-anymore, double chocolate blackberry soufflés
In pastry school, soufflés sprung up toward the end of our time in the classroom, and frankly, I struggled with them. Either I didn’t fill my ramekins enough, or I filled them too much, or I didn’t butter my ramekins correctly, or I didn’t fine-tune my flavors, or I managed to do all of those things wrong in a single batch. I gritted my way through the very constructive feedback I received that day and mentally checked off soufflés, planning to never make them again.
Fast forward to two months ago when SF Cooking School approached me to co-teach a class on, you guessed it: all things soufflé (!). Imposter syndrome and a bit of PTSD kicked in big-time as I contemplated my response. However, like most things in baking, a bit of practice and some techniques go a long way, and I didn’t want home bakers to write off soufflés like I had, so I brushed up on my soufflé skills and feel confident making now.
Even now, I’m still mastering the “top hat” appearance, and while this recipe is weighed down a bit by the jam (making it slightly harder to achieve the elusive height of a restaurant soufflé), these soufflés taste mighty good, and I’m sharing some tips that can help you achieve soufflés that look ever better than the ones I photographed for this post.
While a classic fruit pairing with chocolate is raspberry, I modified one of the recipes I’ll be teaching in class for this post to feature blackberries and two different types of chocolate, as well as changing up what size the soufflés were. The blackberries’ subtle tart-and-sweet fruitiness offsets the bitter, decadent chocolate that takes center stage in these airy desserts.
RECIPE: The I’m-not-afraid-of-soufflés-anymore, double chocolate blackberry soufflés
By: Kathleen Hayes, adapted from SF Cooking School; yield = 7-8 soufflés in 3.5 oz ramekins
For soufflé - meringue
100g (organic) sugar
210g egg whites (~6 egg whites)
For soufflé - chocolate
85g Guittard organic semi-sweet baking wafers (66% dark chocolate)
85g Guittard organic bittersweet baking wafers (74% dark chocolate)
80g blackberry jam (~¼ cup; I used Bonne Maman)
1 egg yolk (~15 grams)
¼ - ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Sugar, for coating ramekins
Powdered sugar (organic)
Medium saucepan (for double boiler)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Using softened butter and a hardware-store paint brush, brush butter on the bottoms and sides of each ramekin, using a down-to-up motion along the sides. (Legend has it that this helps with the desired trajectory of a lifted soufflé by brushing upwards.)
Dump a few tablespoons of sugar into a ramekin and coat the bottom and sides by rotating the ramekin to get full coverage. Tap out excess sugar into the next ramekin and repeat until they’re all coated.
(Optional: put prepared ramekins in the fridge to re-chill the butter while you prepare your soufflé filling. This is a preferred step of many chefs, including Chef Ludo Lefebre.)
Start mixing your egg whites on low until they’re quite frothy (using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment), and then slowly stream in your sugar. Once the sugar is added, crank up the mixer to medium high and mix until you reach stiff peaks but before the meringue dries out and breaks. Once you reach this point, turn off your mixer until you’re ready with your chocolate.
Over a bain marie / double boiler, melt your chocolates and blackberry jam until combined and smooth. Take off heat.
Add yolk and salt by mixing with a spatula.
Gently fold ¼ - ⅓ of the egg whites / meringue to the chocolate mixture. Repeat in two more batches until the egg whites are incorporated. Don’t overmix or deflate your egg whites here -- if there are a few bits not 100% mixed in, that’s okay.
Using an ice cream scoop or piping bag with a large round piping tip (I used an Ateco 808 tip for half my batch and an ice cream scoop for the other), fill each ramekin to the brim.
Optional tip, especially if using an ice cream scoop: use a bench scraper, offset spatula, or knife to get a level top for your soufflé.
Optional tip: Use your finger to go around the edge of the ramekin rim to get a small space between your soufflé and the ramekin edge. (I skipped this step, but it supposedly helps with final height.)
Bake on a baking sheet on the bottom part of your oven for 17-19 minutes, dust with powdered sugar after pulling from the oven and serve right away.
Plating tip: use oven mitts to place ramekins on small plates, or use tongs wrapped in a towel (again, a la Chef Ludo) to transfer ramekins to plates.
Change the flavor of jam added to the soufflé, or experiment with a nut butter or tahini instead.
Top with creme anglaise or whipped cream. Ginger ice cream would also be dynamite here.
Experiment with a mixture of milk chocolate and dark chocolate if you want something slightly sweeter.
Use larger ramekins for a more substantial portion size.
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