This is part of the Egg series, where I’m cooking my way through the list of 99 Ways to Cook an Egg. With inflation driving costs up, even eggs aren’t as cheap as they once were, but they are still an inexpensive protein option, and as you will see, an elegant dinner is quite manageable!
I had avoided making soufflés for far too long. The legend of just how temperamental they are warded me off, I suppose. However, if you can successfully make meringue (I can, it’s a staple in my repertoire) then there is no reason you can’t manage soufflé.
Before you even begin, get your eggs out and allow them to come to room temperature. Cold egg whites won’t be as easy to beat into the firm foam you’ll need here. Eggs do not spoil as readily as urban legend has it (with farm fresh eggs there’s no need to refrigerate them at all) so this is perfectly safe.
A cheese soufflé – or any other, for that matter – is more than the eggs. The structure is also made up of a béchamel sauce. My First Reader took one look and asked “are you making gravy?” Yes, love, the core of a soufflé is milk gravy, just like you grew up making. The origins of his patronymic are Irish, with a heavy salting of Germanic in there somewhere, simmered for generations in the Appalachians, and yes, French cooking had an influence in the misty past of his heritage.
Butter your soufflé dish, or ramekins, and powder them with finely grated parmesan.
Then assemble your ingredients. I’m making enough to feed 6.
- 4 1/2 tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp finely grated parmesan
- 4 1/2 tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 c milk
- 6 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 c grated cheese
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (to go with the egg whites)
Preheat Oven to 400F
In a saucepan, melt the butter. When fully melted, whisk in the flour, letting it cook for a moment or two. Then whisk in the milk, and allow to cook, stirring frequently, until it thickens. Remove from heat.
Separate your eggs, setting aside the whites for now. Into the egg yolks, beat the salt, paprika, and mustard powder.
Place your milk gravy (bechamel!) back on the heat at medium, and working quickly, whisk the egg yolk mixture into the hot sauce. Drizzling it in slowly while beating will keep you from getting scrambled eggs.
Once all the egg yolk is in, whisk in the parmesan and other cheese (I used a mild cheddar as it’s what I had on hand that needed using. Almost anything else would be a better option, likely). Stir until cheeses are fully melted. Remove from heat.
Begin to beat your egg whites with a stand mixer using whisk attachment, or a hand mixer. Once they are nicely foamy, sprinkle in your cream of tartar. Continue to beat until the stiff peaks stage. Slowly and carefully, fold the hot sauce into the egg whites, never beating or stirring rapidly at this point. Once they are fully combined, pour into your baking container(s).
For separate 8 oz ramekins, I used a cookie sheet. Lower the oven temp to 375F as soon as you slide them into the oven and close the door. Set a timer for 35 minutes. DO NOT open the oven door until at least the 20 min mark. Soufflés depend on steam, and until they have formed a nice tight crust to trap it in, they can and will fall if you disturb them.
Goodness, this was a rewarding recipe! Look at how pretty they are! Tasty, too. A light texture, plenty of flavor – and I can see how fun it would be to make a myriad of variations on them. But honestly, it’s not an expensive meal to whip up for a dinner. I’m delighted with it, and so were the friends we had over to be willing guinea pigs for my efforts.
Served with salad, roasted new potatoes, and a loaf of brioche (why yes, I was on a French kick) it made for a very filling meal. I’ll be doing these again, only next time I think they will be chocolate.