This was my contribution to a five-course truffle degustation dinner at the annual Black Tie Truffle and Gum Boot dinner at Borodell on the Mount in Orange.
Several days prior to cooking, place the eggs in an airtight jar with the truffle to infuse the flavour.
Clean the truffle, then peel it carefully and reserve the peel. Finely chop the truffle. Separate the eggs and place the chopped truffle in a bowl with the egg yolks.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Brush the insides of ten (60 ml/2 fl oz/1/4 cup) ramekins with melted butter.
Heat the milk in a small pan with the truffle peelings, nutmeg, bay leaf and peppercorns and bring slowly to a simmer over low heat. Remove from the heat, cover and stand to infuse for 15 minutes, until cooled. Drain, discarding the solids.
Make a roux by melting the extra 50 g (13/4 oz) butter in a small saucepan over low heat and stirring in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1–2 minutes, until it smells nutty and is lightly golden brown. Remove from the heat and gradually add the strained milk, whisking as you go. Return to medium heat, stirring constantly until very thick and boiling. Reduce the heat to low and stir for another 5 minutes, to thicken further. Beat in 40 g (1/12 oz) of the grated cheese and the truffle and egg yolk mixture. Season to taste.
Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl with an electric mixer until foamy, add a pinch of salt and beat until just stiff. Fold gently into the cheese and egg yolk mixture with the diced cheese in two batches. Fill the prepared ramekins to the top, levelling the top by scraping with the back of a knife across the top. Clean the rims and place the ramekins in a large baking dish. Place on the oven shelf and add enough boiling water to the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 10–15 minutes, until well risen. The tops should feel soft and springy to the touch.
Remove from the baking dish and cool completely. They will sink a little. The soufflés can be prepared to this stage, wrapped in plastic wrap and kept refrigerated or frozen if desired.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
Turn the soufflés out of the dishes onto a baking paper-lined oven tray or onto individual gratin dishes – the topside can be up or turned over to make the base. Drizzle the soufflés with cream and the remaining grated cheese. Bake for 10 minutes (or longer if they have been frozen) or until well risen. Shave an extra slice or two of truffle on top and serve immediately.
If cooking in larger ramekins for an appetiser, increase the first cooking time by about 5 minutes.
Serves 10 as part of a degustation or 5 as an appetiser.
The beautiful savoury umami flavours of these soufflés are best matched with a chardonnay or viognier.
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