Chocolate Souffle with Orange

Now doesn’t that just look delicious and oh so impressive and complicated? The only one of those descriptors with any validity is delicious. Yes soufflés are a little time consuming (maybe an hour from start to finish with 15 minutes hands on time) and yes they can be a little finicky, but not anywhere near the delicate and fussy light in which they are popularly portrayed. They are basically a roux thickened custard, lightened with whipped egg whites, nothing you can’t handle, trust me. Serve them up in decorative ramekins and you have a plated dessert with little extra effort. I think you will be surprised at just how easy this soufflé recipe really is…

I like to add the tones of sweet and bitter oranges to form a cutting layer to the decadent chocolate flavor of this dessert. To accomplish this, I use both the zest of a navel orange and a few drops of Cointreau, but feel free to leave these out if they do not suit your taste. This recipe makes three fully filled 6 oz ramekin soufflés (I tried to stretch it to make a 4th and I ended up not filling my containers up all the way to the top to get that classic soufflé top). This is what you will need:

Bittersweet Chocolate Orange Soufflés

3 Tbl all purpose flour
3 Tbl unsalted butter
12 oz cream (I used a 50/50 mix of cream and non-fat milk)
6 oz chocolate of your preference, roughly chopped (I used bittersweet and unsweetened)
3 egg yolks, at room temperature
3 egg whites. at room temperature
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 tsp salt (I used fleur de sel)
2 tsp navel orange zest
1/4 tsp Cointreau
orange peel and confectioner sugar for garnish
Preheat your oven to 375F.

The first thing I did was butter my ramekins and assemble my soufflé collars. These are wax paper supports that will help contain your soufflé as it rises above the sides of the ramekin (clearly, this did not happen for me as I tried to extend my batter into a 4th ramekin). Fold over approximately 1 inch of wax paper at least 3 times and then wrap tightly atop your dishes with masking tape. One could always size up the wax paper using the circumference of a circle formula, but with 6 oz ramekins and a standard box of wax paper it isn’t required.
Here is what they should look like:

I had leftover frozen egg whites and yolks so I decided to use them up. Unfortunately, I failed miserably in removing them in ample time to defrost so I had to heat them up in a water bath. Once your eggs are at room temperature, whip your egg whites to firm stiff peaks with a hand held mixer and set aside.

Measure out your chocolate. This time I used a mixture of bittersweet and unsweetened because I had bits leftover, and the soufflés turned out slightly too bitter for my taste. However, I think if we had served it with a creme anglaise or other sweet sauce, it would have been perfectly balanced. I generally use a mix of semi-sweet and bittersweet in my chocolate desserts. Use sweeter chocolate or whisk in a little sugar to the egg whites (which will also make your souffle rise higher) if you prefer a sweeter dessert.

Note – be sure that you have all your ingredients and apparatuses ready to go before you start this process. You want to be able to give your full attention to the pan to prevent burning and curdling.

Start the roux by melting the butter in a medium sauce pan. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and stir constantly so the flour does not burn. Let this cook for a minute or two just so that the flour loses any raw taste.

Add a small amount of your milk/cream mixture and whisk to deglaze the sauce pan and continue to cook the flour.

Add the remaining cream, orange zest, Cointreau, and the seeds from your vanilla bean. Throw the beans in for good measure and scald the cream/milk mixture whilst whisking continually – it will thicken considerably during this time.

Remove and discard the vanilla bean pods. Then add your chopped chocolate. Once the chocolate is added, take your pan off the heat and whisk the mixture until all the chocolate is melted. Temper in the egg yolks one at a time, whisking constantly.

Carefully fold in the whipped egg whites, loosening the batter with 1/3rd first, folding, than adding the remaining 2/3rds. You may want to freshen them up with the beaters for a few seconds if they are looking a little haggard from waiting around. It is important that the folding is done gingerly to minimize deflation of the egg whites, because the whipped egg whites is what gives you that traditional puffy topped soufflé.

Fill up your prepared ramekins.

Allow them to cook for approximately 35 – 45 minutes, in a water bath (boiling or almost boiling water) that comes 3/4 quarters of the way up the sides of the ramekin, until a cake tester in the center comes out clean… and we’re ready for eating:

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