30 September 2007

Bittersweet Chocolate Souffle with Earl Grey Custard Sauce


This recipe was a labor of love. Seriously. I made the lovely sauce ahead of time, as recommended, and put it in the refrigerator to cool. Then Hubs and I decided to go to Old Chicago to watch the Chiefs game, so I pulled the bowl of sauce out of the fridge to cover with wrap (before it got tons of other fridge flavors).

Anyhoo, I start to wrap it in saran wrap, and the bowl tips. And out floods all the thick, sweet, sticky sauce. All over my shirt, my new jeans, my yellow retro (SUEDE) Reeboks. Not only that, but it also covered this self-proclaimed-Neat-Freak's counter, cabinet fronts, floor, splattered against the remaining cabinets and oven, seeped into the cabinets and pooled... Yeah. Yuck. And right before we stepped out the door, too. I wanted to cry, but instead: I stripped off my sticky-soaked clothes, made a bucket of soapy water, and started scrubbing like mad. Yes, I was Lady MacBeth in my kitchen in my panties. It was a sight to behold, let me tell you. But, eventually I got it all cleaned up, pulled myself together, had a few beers while watching the game, and then came home to start all over again.

Now that my drama has been played out on the Blog, I should probably tell you about the actual dessert itself. First I'd like to just get this out: souffle has gotten a bad rap, as a very difficult dessert. But (custard-sauce-tsumani withstanding) it is actually an easy dessert to pull off. It's probably hard to make a grand presentation with, since it falls fairly quickly, but in taste it's hot and puffy and delicious.

This recipe was a good one: The chocolate is intense and rich but the "fluff" of the souffle evens that out. Two kinds of chocolate help to balance it so that it's not overly sweet. The sauce, however, is the real star of this recipe. The tea gives it a distinct flavor (Earl Grey = citrusy), the overall "steeped tea" taste is great in the sauce. I suggest serving this to friends and not telling them about the tea, as they'll never guess that flavor.


Bittersweet Chocolate Souffle with Earl Grey Custard Sauce

Ingredients:
Sauce:
6 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. plus 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. whipping cream
1 Tbsp. Earl Grey tea leaves (about 3 tea bags)

Soufflé:
1/3 c. whole milk
8 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 1/2 oz. bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites

For sauce: Whisk egg yolks and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl to blend well. Combine milk, cream, tea leaves, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into egg yolk mixture; return to same saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens enough to leave path on spoon when finger is drawn across, about 8 minutes (do not boil).

Immediately strain sauce into small bowl. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, at least 4 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)
For soufflé: Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously butter six 1 c. soufflé dishes; coat dishes with sugar. Combine milk and 5 tablespoons sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves and milk comes to simmer. Remove from heat; add both chocolates and stir until melted and smooth. Whisk in egg yolks.

Using electric mixer, beat whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 3 tablespoons sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into warm chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Transfer mixture to prepared dishes.

Bake soufflés until just set in center and tops are puffed and cracked all over, 28-30 minutes. Serve soufflés immediately with custard sauce.

Makes 6 servings.