i mentioned earlier that our valentine’s day was celebrated with a special dinner on sunday night, since our week days are particularly hectic. we chose a dish we don’t normally explore: duck. we found a recipe for Roast Duck A L’Orange in america’s test kitchen: cooking for two (2010). this book is brilliant, and i recommend that anyone perfecting their basic cooking skills pick up a copy. no matter your skill level, there are many things to be learned from america’s test kitchen. from perfect oven temperatures to how to carve a duck, popping corn, or the best cocoa powders to use.. this book series is awesome, and super helpful to brian and i, as all of our meals are “cooking for two”.
the Roast Duck A L’Orange was perfect. brian was in charge of the whole thing, and he did great. honestly, the duck is so tasty, having been rubbed with S&P 24 hours before roasting, it could stand alone without the orange sauce… but don’t skip that part. it takes it over the top.
out of respect for paying for the book, i can not post the recipe. BUT, know that you can get the recipe for free by checking it out of your local library (shameless library plug).
i can, however, give you the recipe for this beautiful souffle we had for dessert.
an amateur tutorial and instructional on problem-solving and perfecting your souffle-
souffle is something that many home cooks find intimidating. folding egg whites can be a little daunting, and keeping eye on them while baking, without opening the oven, seems labor intensive. it’s not that bad. the author of the recipe i followed shares my view on souffle, hinting at them being unattainable and a little daunting. he, however, did a beautiful job with them.
the few times that i have made dessert souffle, i have observed the following bumps in the road that, if properly prepared, are avoided easily.
on beating the egg whites properly:
-over beating the egg whites will cause the tops of the baking souffle to crack.
-but if you must over beat, please do not beat your eggs until the point of drying the egg whites out. this will cause them to dry so much that the remaining ingredients will not fold into them.
-under beating the egg whites will cause the souffle to remain flat, and not rise.
if you must chose between the problems that could occur when doing the egg whites, over beating is the better problem to have. a crackled, tougher top will resemble a brownie top, and is quite tasty, though not the desired result of a souffle. a flat souffle will just be gross and gooey.
on adding the sugar to the whites:
-adding the sugar too quickly to the egg whites could deflate them, or can cause them to under incorperate, resulting in a grainy, sandy texture.
-adding the sugar too slowly promotes over beating the egg whites, as you want to move as swiftly, but accurately, as possible when making the souffle.
let it be said, also, that one could easily reduce or increase the amount of sugar they wish to add according to their taste. just be aware that it is partly the job of sugar to give the souffle its form. if you use too little sugar it may not be moist enough to attain desired tenderness.
adding the melted chocolate at the proper rate is important:
-adding the melted chocolate too briskly will deflate the egg whites.
-adding the melted chocolate too slowly will cause the residual heat from the melted chocolate unto the egg whites, causing them to toughen, and later become springy in the souffle.
that being said, this was not perfect. i obviously over beat the egg whites. like i said, it only caused “brownie top”, the best problem a baked good could have.
the center was warm and gooey, the top slightly crisp and sweet. we poured honey-sweetened coconut creme onto each bite to cool the souffle down. the recipe i used actually made 3 souffle. this isn’t something that would be great as a left over, so we took the opportunity to gobble them up.
the recipe i used from verses from my kitchen was only slightly adjusted. adding a little cream to the chocolate mixture in place of half the water resulted in a creamy, rich souffle. if you have none on hand, water works fine and makes a delicious souffle regardless.
ok, on to the magic.
chocolate souffle for 2 or 3
3 egg whites
3 tbsp sugar
50g chopped dark chocolate, 70%
pinch of salt
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp cold water
3 tbsp cold cream
2 10oz or 3 6oz souffle dishes or ramekins with straight sides, cold
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder, no lumps
method: using a pastry or silicone brush, brush melted butter in upward strokes up the sides and around the bottoms of the souffle dishes, with just a light coating. swirl in the sugar and cocoa powder and dump out the excess.
preheat oven to 380f.
over low heat, melt dark chocolate and the small pinch of salt until most lumps are gone. keep a close eye on it, chocolate burns quickly. stir in cold water and cream, then cocoa powder. promptly remove from heat. keep stirring until completely mixed and a little liquidy. pour into a large, room temp bowl and set aside.
beat the egg whites (i used a hand mixer) until soft peaks form. slowly add the sugar, beating it in until stiff peaks form. now stop.
take a spatula of your egg whites and fold them into your chocolate, 1/4 at a time, until it is mixed, but without deflating them. don’t over mix. do this gently and with folding motions, no stirring.
divide batter among souffle pots and scrape the tops off using the flat side of a butter knife.
place them onto a cookie sheet and stick into the oven for 12 minutes, or once tops appear stiff and centers are slightly jiggly.
allow to cool only for 5 minutes, at the most, before serving. always enjoy souffle warm and gooey.
i whipped up a little coconut cream with honey (to taste) and scraping from a vanilla bean and served it, ice cold, with the warm souffle.