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Soufflés are notorious for being a difficult and an unpredictable dish to make. That’s true but I can now make a cheese soufflé and get consistent results. I have to give Julia Child a lot of credit here for the education that I received. I must have watched her videos on soufflés a dozen times. We ate soufflés almost every night until I had the procedure down pat. The recipe I have below has a lot of influence from Julia but I always adjust my procedures and ingredients to fit my style.
All Soufflés no matter if it’s cheese, chocolate, or whatever share a common set of procedures. They all start with a white sauce or Béchamel and then the addition of egg whites that are beaten to soft peaks and gently folded into the remaining ingredients. The lightness and stunning rise that you expect is achieved from the egg whites. They add air and structure which allows the soufflé to rise and briefly hold it’s shape. Soufflés collapse quickly and cannot be held for service. This is why you must time it correctly so that you and your guest can enjoy something spectacular before it deflates like a punctured tire.
There are differences in procedure if you are making a sweet soufflé vs savory, so let’s focus our attention on the specifics for a cheese soufflé.
Prepare White Sauce
Step 1: melt butter in a saucepan. For today’s recipe, we’ll use 1/4 C or 4 tbs. The butter is a fat that is required for a white sauce.
Step 2: add flour to the melted butter and stir frequently with a whisk. We’ll use 1/4 C flour and then a pinch of salt, pepper, and a dash of red pepper. Cook this with the melted butter for a couple of minutes until a roux has developed.
Step 3: add hot milk. Once our roux is done, we need to add 1 C of milk. Now a secret here is to add only warm milk so just pop that in the microwave or heat on the stove on low heat. By using warm milk, we solve the problem of lumps in our sauce and it really works. Thanks Julia. Remove your sauce from heat and set aside.
Prepare The Savory & Remaining Ingredients
Up to this point we have made a basic white sauce that will thicken the soufflé. Now we need to add our remaining ingredients and get our soufflé to rise sky high.
Step 4: Beat 4 room temperature egg yolks. Add just a little at a time to your white sauce and stir until combined.
Step 5: Beat 4 egg whites until you have soft peaks. You can do this the traditional way with a large whisk and a copper bowl, or you can simply use an electric mixer. I have both, but I just use an electric mixer for convenience. When done, gently add a small amount to the white sauce and fold in. Then take the white sauce and add to the egg whites. Gently fold the egg whites into the white sauce and don’t over do it. We don’t want to over mix and deflate our egg whites. That air is required to get good results.
Step 6: Add 1 C grated cheese to mixture and gently fold. We don’t want the cheese to melt at this time, we want that to be done only in the oven.
Step 7: Now we are almost done. Add your final mixture to your heavily greased ramekins and fill only to just below the rim of the dish. Sprinkle a bit of grated cheese on top, then wipe the rim clean. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.
You can make any size soufflé you like, you just need the right dish. I like to use ramekins for single servings or a larger dish for a larger group. Here are some good baking dishes that work well with soufflés that I found on Amazon.
- ¼ C Butter
- ¼ C All Purpose Flour
- 1 C Hot Milk
- Pinch Salt
- Pinch Black Pepper
- Dash Red Pepper
- 4 Eggs
- 1 C Grated Cheese - any type you like
- Melt butter in a saucepan then add flour, salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes until the roux is done.
- Warm milk either in a microwave or on the stove on low heat. Add to the roux and stir until it thickens. Remove from heat.
- Beat 4 egg yolks and add to the sauce. Stir until combined.
- Whip the 4 egg whites until soft peaks. Add a little to the roux then take all of the sauce and add that back into the egg whites. Gently fold.
- Add cheese to sauce and gently fold. Fill greased ramekins with the sauce and then clean the rims. if desired, add a bit of grated cheese on top of each ramekin and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.