Chef Annie Smithers shares her special tips and recipe to create the perfect chocolate souffle.
Food can stir childhood memories so easily. For me, the most poignant is the chocolate soufflé. My mother, Edie, was a dab hand at soufflés, often parading perfect cheese or chocolate soufflés out at seventies dinner parties that I remember as lavish, late and often loud occasions.
Each year, for my birthday she would ask what I would like for my birthday dinner. The answer was the same for many years, avocado vinaigrette, roast lamb and mint sauce, and chocolate soufflé. For the week before my birthday I would dream of that soft chocolate cloud that would disappear in my mouth, and then on the night of my birthday I would eat it so quickly that as I lingered over scraping the crunchy, buttery coating from the sides of the soufflé dish I would wish that I hadn't been so greedy and eaten a little more slowly, savoring the delicacy of the dish.
It was well into my adolescence that I learnt that my mother's ability with soufflés was quite rare, most people were terrified of them. But cooking a dinner party at home is the perfect environment for producing a soufflé. The base can be made before hand and the whites whisked after the main course and into an undisturbed oven they go for 18 odd minutes and voila, a show stopping dessert that is both light and satisfying.
For me, the other little secret is to hand whip your egg whites. I remember watching Edie with her copper bowl cradled in the crook of her arm, rhythmically whisking away and the sound of the whisk hitting the bowl changing as the whites got stiffer and stiffer. Today I eschew the easy option of putting the whites into a stand mixer and take my Mauviel copper bowl and a fine whisk and repeat my mothers’ motions. A small amount of white is mixed into the soufflé base to lighten it and then the mix is carefully folded into the remaining whites.
To add a further piece of magic, I spoon the mix into Mauviel minis. 20 minutes later, as the minis are a little larger than the soufflé dishes Edie used to use, I remove stunning chocolate soufflés from the oven in perfect little copper pots that could happily grace any table, from the humblest farmhouse to the grandest mansion.
60 gm caster sugar
300 ml milk
45 gm unsalted butter
15 gm plain flour
15 gm cocoa
2 egg yolks
5 egg whites
30 ml grand marnier
extra butter and sugar for ramekins
Pre heat oven to 200C.
Butter and sugar 6 200 ml souffle dishes.
Bring the milk and sugar to scalding point, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
In a small heavy bottomed saucepan, melt butter, add flour and cocoa to form a paste
Gradually add milk and sugar mix, stirring constantly over a low heat till thickened. Add grand marnier.
Remove from heat, cool.
Add egg yolks.
In a separate bowl whisk egg whites to stiff peaks. Mix a little in with the chocolate base to lighten and then fold into the rest of the whites. Fill 6 200 ml souffle dishes.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 18 to 20 minutes. Dust with icing sugar, serve immediately with cream and ice-cream.
Mauviel's iconic copper products are used by famous chefs and in professional kitchens around the world. Now these same products are available to household markets. Each range is crafted with elegant style, and designed to meet the needs of the most discerning cooks. Mauviel continues to offer unsurpassed quality and design and enjoys the respect and reputation of being at the top of its industry, as does Annie.
Annie Smithers' Bistro serves modern interpretations of classic French Bistrot food. Much of the produce is sourced from her own extensive kitchen gardens and local farmers. Her first cookbook will be released early 2012.
To find out more about Annie Smithers' Bistro, head to www.anniesmithers.com.au