How to make the best soufflé

1.3 Souffle
Delicate and sensitive soufflés are absolutely worth the effort. (Photos: NYTimes and bakes by brown sugar’s website)
When it comes to making soufflés, there is a lot of fear-mongering: “Don’t overmix the batter, or they won’t rise.” “Don’t open or slam the oven door, or they’ll fall.” “Don’t overbake, or they’ll be dry.” “Eat them right away, or they’ll be ruined!”اضافة اعلان

All of it could make a home baker shy away from soufflés, but that would be a shame. Lofty, voluminous soufflés are one of the most elegant, high-reward desserts, and they are actually quicker and less complicated than those warnings would have you believe.

Stabilize your egg whites
A flavored base lightened with beaten egg whites and baked into a cloudlike consistency, soufflés require a certain amount of technical knowledge, starting with an understanding of egg whites.

When egg whites are whipped, the proteins in them, called albumin, denature (meaning that the bonds that hold them together break down). These denatured proteins trap air bubbles and retain water, creating a foam. That foam is then folded into the soufflé base, and, in the oven, the tiny air bubbles expand from the heat and cause the batter to rise.

Since egg white foam is inherently unstable and will start to collapse almost immediately, so much of soufflé-making revolves around preserving as much air as possible.

For a more stable foam, start with older eggs — preferably from the supermarket and not the farmers’ market — as very fresh egg whites will not whip up as easily. While the eggs are still cold, separate the whites from their yolks. Cold yolks are less likely to rupture and leave behind traces of fat in the whites, which will interfere with the formation of the foam.

Then, let the whites come to room temperature before whipping them in a very clean bowl. Just make sure to avoid any plastic bowls, as the plastic can retain fat residue.

Once the whites are opaque and foamy — waiting until this point helps them achieve their maximum volume — gradually add the sugar while still beating the whites. This helps stabilize them and reduces the chance of overbeating. Then, keep whipping them until they are glossy and form stiff peaks. Any less may leave the whites droopy and formless, resulting in denser soufflés that collapse quickly, while any more may produce clumpy whites that are difficult to incorporate, yielding dry soufflés.

Build a better base

If stiffly beaten egg whites give a soufflé its hallmark lightness, the flavored base, which is often yolk-enriched, provides structure and support. Sweet soufflés commonly use pastry cream, and savory ones often employ béchamel.

While some chocolate soufflés are gluten-free, relying only on melted chocolate for structure, this recipe calls for a thin pastry cream thickened with a bit of flour and flavored with chocolate and cocoa powder. The gluten from the flour adds just enough structure to support the soufflés without muting any of the chocolate flavor. The fat from the yolks, chocolate and milk will speed the collapse of the egg foam, so fold the batter gently and try to work quickly once it is assembled.
A technically imperfect chocolate soufflé is still delicious, and your friends and family are unlikely to notice if you under-beat the egg whites or left the soufflés in the oven a minute too long.
Then, pull out your ramekins. Compared with one larger vessel, they cumulatively offer more surface area, which leads to more even, consistent cooking.

Ready your ramekins
Because egg white foam is sticky, the ramekins should be thoroughly greased and coated with sugar to prevent the batter from anchoring to the sides during baking, which could lead to domed and cracked soufflés. Apply a generous coating of room-temperature butter all over the vessels, using upward strokes along the sides to encourage the batter’s rise. Make sure to butter along the rims as well, as this is where the batter is most likely to stick. A final dusting of sugar also aids the batter’s rise, as the crystals act like grips.

Taking a few careful steps during assembly will help produce soufflés with flat tops and tall, straight sides, making them as impressive-looking as anything you can order in a fancy French restaurant. Fill the ramekins completely with batter, then scrape off any excess with a straightedge for a smooth, level finish. Ramekins filled to the very top with a well-made batter should double in height in the oven.

Then, after sprinkling the tops with sugar, run a finger along the inner rims, wiping away the batter. This last trick is just one more way to prevent sticking and help the soufflés rise straight upward. After an initial blast of heat from a hot oven kick-starts their rise, they cook at a lower temperature to allow time for the centers to cook before the sides dry out.

Know when you are done
Determining doneness can be tricky, as the window when the batter is neither undercooked and runny nor overcooked and dry is brief. The best test is to press the centers of the soufflés gently with a fingertip and feel for a subtle springiness, an indication that the eggs are barely set. Serve the soufflés straight from the oven, but know that proper whipping of the egg whites and the small amount of flour in the base give them good staying power, so while collapse is inevitable, it is not imminent.

The process of making soufflés is undoubtedly finicky, but do not let this be a deterrent. A technically imperfect chocolate soufflé is still delicious, and your friends and family are unlikely to notice if you under-beat the egg whites or left the soufflés in the oven a minute too long.

You are not risking much in the way of time or ingredients, and, though the potential for mistakes may be high, the potential for greatness is even higher.

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