Crafted for the late, great Julia Child, this salty-sweet soufflé from Baked Occasions celebrates the life of a woman who found her calling at fifty, and who taught her audience the secrets of French cooking in the comfort of their own kitchens. Make this to celebrate a great woman in your life, or anyone who has achieved lofty heights and sweet success (much like a caramel soufflé).
Tips: For reasons that might be derived entirely from Warner Brothers cartoons, a soufflé is seen as something ultra-delicate and nearly impossible to make. The slightest breath or jiggle will cause it to fall, ruining your dinner party and social standing. A soufflé becomes much easier to tackle when you view it for what it is: a gently baked cake that gets its eponymous lift from beaten egg whites. There is no magic spell or incantation that will prevent a soufflé from falling. Your best best is to follow the instructions of the recipe to the letter, and abide by these words especially: use truly room-temperature eggs for the room-temperature egg whites. They'll whip up more easily and provide more volume. Second, when it comes time to fold your beaten whites into the caramel base, really fold them, lifting up from the bottom and back down again. Simply stirring will not achieve the lighter-than-air results you're looking for.
Tweaks: I'm not about to mess with success; preparing this recipe the way it's described works well. However, in step 2, if you've made a faux pas and now have sugar-water splashed up on the pan, you don't have to start over. Either put a lid on it and use the condensation to wash the mixture back down to the bottom of the pot, or dip a pastry brush in water and paint the sides. Also, whisking the egg yolks by hand isn't too difficult, but use a mixer for the whites; it'll save time and your arm strength. I've made meringue several times by hand, and never by choice. Lastly, when they say serve immediately, they mean immediately; otherwise, you run the risk of a somewhat deflated dessert.
Excerpted from Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito (Stewart, Tabori and Chang). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Brian Kennedy.
- Yield:Serves 8
- 1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar, plus more for the soufflé dish
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons fleur de sel
- 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
- 5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Unsweetened whipped cream (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400F (205C) and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 2-quart (2-L) soufflé dish. Dust the soufflé dish with sugar (so that it adheres to the butter) and knock out the excess.
In a large saucepan with high sides, combine 1 cup (200 g) sugar, 1/4 cup (60 ml) water, and the corn syrup. Stir the mixture gently so you don’t splash any of it up the sides of the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high, stop stirring, clip on a candy thermometer (making sure the bulb is immersed in the sugar but not touching the pan), and allow the mixture to boil. Once it begins to turn a rich, dark caramel color and the thermometer reads 345F (175C), 5 to 8 minutes (don’t worry if it takes longer, the actual time is reliant on so many factors), remove it from the heat; do not overcook. Gently and slowly stream in the heavy cream (it will bubble up, so be careful). Stir in the fleur de sel. Return the mixture to medium-low heat; don’t worry if the caramel mixture begins to harden—it will easily melt again as it reheats. Add the milk and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low. Leave the mixture on the heat while you prep the egg yolks.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar. Sprinkle the mixture with the flour, then the cornstarch, and whisk until completely combined. Pour one-third of the caramel mixture into the egg mixture, whisking the egg mixture constantly. Slowly stream in the rest of the caramel while whisking constantly until combined. Set the bowl aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a whisk and bowl and a ready arm), whisk the egg whites on high speed for 1 minute. Sprinkle the cream of tartar and salt over the whites and continue whisking on high speed until the egg whites form soft peaks. Slowly stream in the remaining 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar, and continue beating until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold one-quarter of the stiff egg-white mixture into the caramel mixture until almost combined. The caramel mixture will begin to lighten. Fold another quarter of the egg-white mixture into the caramel mixture until nearly combined. Finally, add the remaining egg-white mixture to the caramel mixture and fold gently until completely combined.
Transfer the soufflé batter to the prepared dish. For an even rise, run your thumb around the inside edge of the dish to wipe away any stray batter. Place the soufflé in the oven, and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375F (190C). Avoid opening the oven door during the recommended baking time. Bake until the soufflé is puffy and dry to the touch, and the center is just about set but slightly jiggly (that is, slightly jiggly, not crazy ripply), 22 to 30 minutes.
Transfer the hot soufflé dish to a serving platter and serve immediately as is or with unsweetened whipped cream, if you like.