Sunday, August 7, 2011

Spectacular souffle!

One dish that has always intimidated me was the souffle. In fact, until recently, I didn't even own any souffle dishes; fortunately that has changed.

Not too long ago, my son and his friend and I went to the D Bar Dessert Bar in Denver. My son tried the "Booz-flay," their Grand Marnier souffle (I sampled was quite tasty), then during a recent episode of Master Chef, the home cooks were making souffles for a challenge, and my son asked me if I'd ever made a souffle (I hadn't), and why I hadn't. I really didn't have any good reason other than not owning the dishes, so I decided to remedy the situation.

I picked up the dishes at Peppercorn in Boulder, and pulled the recipes from The Joy of Cooking, my go-to resource when I'm making things I've never made before but for which I need a recipe. I decided to get over my souffle making phobia by making both an entree souffle and a dessert souffle for the same meal; I opted for the Cheese Cockaigne savory souffle and the chocolate souffle for dessert.

The instructions for both were straightforward and easy to follow, which was great. In fact, I realized that making a souffle is actually much easier than I thought it was going to be. My biggest concern was the possible effect that altitude might have on the souffles, but the elevation of Denver proved to have a negligible effect (had to cook them a bit longer is all).

Both souffles turned out light and airy and incredibly rich. I served the cheese souffle with a side of a bowl of organic grape tomatoes to balance out the dish and add some acidity to the meal. The next time I make a cheese souffle, I think I may tinker with the seasonings a bit, since I do feel the cheese souffle as it was written could have benefited from a bit of an "oomph," as it were. It wasn't bad, just a bit...bland (sort of). Some garlic or herbs would have done well.

The chocolate souffle was equally rich, especially when topped with the vanilla sauce as recommended in the book, which added a sweetness to it as well. Next time I make this one, I'll use a darker chocolate (this was almost milk chocolate) and perhaps a touch of cinnamon then top it with a whipped cream or the like.

So...the lesson here: while souffles are definitely temperamental and require careful attention, they aren't quite as difficult as they are made out to be, and they are definitely worth the effort.

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