created: 2004-07-18 22:41:42
We heard this one on "Good Food", a radio show on KCRW.
This recipe is positively a showcase for the chocolate you make it with, so you must use a chocolate of distinction. Choose one that you adore eating, one with flavors that beg to be savored rather than masked with excess butter, sugar, or cream. Such a chocolate inspired the recipe in the first place, which, as it has evolved, reads more like mousse (no flour) than a classic soufflé. No matter, it produces a dessert that acts and tastes like a soufflé, and it is easier to make. I make these a day or so ahead and refrigerate them, unbaked, until shortly before I want to serve them. Preheat the oven toward the end of dinner, then bake the soufflés while you clear the table and make the coffee. Expect big chocolate flavor and extravagant praise. About 2 tablespoons sugar for the ramekins 8 ounces bittersweet 70% chocolate, finely chopped 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1/3 cup milk 3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature 1 large egg white, at room temperature 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar 1/3 Cup sugar FOR THE TOPPING 1 cup heavy cream 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 tablespoon sugar Powdered sugar for dusting (optional) SPECIAL EQUIPMENT Eight 6-ounce ramekins If you are baking the soufflés right away, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Butter the ramekins and sprinkle with sugar. Place the chocolate, butter, and milk in a large heatproof bowl in a large skillet of barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the water bath and whisk in the egg yolks. (Don't worry if the mixture stiffens slightly or is less than perfectly smooth at this point.) Set aside. In a medium, dry bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Gradually sprinkle in the 1/3 cup sugar and beat at high speed until the whites are stiff but not dry. Fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites. Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared ramekins, filling each three- quarters full. (The soufflés can be prepared to this point, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bake directly from the refrigerator.) Place the soufflés on a cookie sheet. Bake until they rise and crack on top and a wooden skewer plunged into the center emerges very moist and gooey (but the centers should not be completely liquid), 14 to 16 minutes, perhaps a minute or so longer if the soufflés have been refrigerated. Meanwhile, make the topping: Beat the cream with the vanilla and sugar until it holds a soft shape (or stiffer, if you like it that way). Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. When they are done, remove the soufflés from the oven, and serve immediately, with a little powdered sugar sifted over the top, if you'd like. Pass the whipped topping separately.