These baked chocolate desserts are classics in international patisserie.
Makes 6 individual souffles
For the souffle:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup flour
1 cup milk
1-1/2 oz couverture*
2 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
5 egg whites
4 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
You will also need: six 3-inch souffle dishes, melted butter, sugar, confectioners' sugar.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Prepare the dishes as shown below. Work the flour into the butter, form into a roll, and break into small pieces. Bring the milk, couverture, and cocoa powder to a boil. Stir in the flour-butter paste. Remove the hot, smoothly bound mixture from the heat, and stir in 1 egg white. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool until lukewarm. Stir in the egg yolks one at a time. Whip the remaining egg whites with the sugar until soft. Stir a quarter of the egg whites into the batter, then fold in the rest. Spoon the mixture into molds and stand in a pan of hot water (176F), with the water 1 inch below the rims. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, sift with confectioners' sugar, and serve immediately.
To make a chocolate souffle:
Grease the dishes with melted, almost cold butter, and dust with sugar. The sides and base must be completely coated. Tip out the surplus sugar.
Pour the milk into a saucepan. Chop the couverture and add. Sift in the cocoa powder and bring to a boil while stirring.
Add the pieces of flour-butter paste one at a time and stir into the boiling milk until the flour binds the liquid into a homogeneous mass.
Whisk the egg yolks into the warm mixture one at a time, and continue to stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy again. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 egg white.
Stir in a quarter of the whipped egg whites with a whisk to lighten the batter. Fold in the remainder of the whipped egg whites with a wooden spoon.
Fill the souffle dishes to within 1/2 inch of the top, place in a pan of hot water, and cook in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.
The classic sauce for a chocolate souffle is creme l'anglaise, a simple vanilla sauce cooked to the point where it coats the back of a spoon. Another fine touch is Creme Chantilly, a semi-stiff whipped cream flavored with vanilla.
*Couverture—According to the Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst, couverture is very glossy, professional-quality coating chocolate, usually found in specialty candy-making or baking supply shops. It usually contains a minimum of 32 percent cocoa butter, allowing it to form a thinner shell than ordinary chocolate.
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