I believe that everyone — each and every one of you — should try making a chocolate soufflé at least once in their lives. Not only are they one of the most heavenly things you can eat with a spoon, but they are a total confidence booster. I'm not going to say they're easy, exactly, but they're also surprisingly not all that hard. They're just tricky enough that when you pull those domed cups out of the oven and carry them reverently to the table, you will feel like you really accomplished something great. In that moment, you are a cooking superstar.
Read More About Making Soufflés in The Kitchn Baking School!
The Beautiful Simplicity of a Soufflé
I've always found soufflés incredibly alluring and charming in their very simplicity. Eggs are separated into yolks and whites. The yolks get whisked into a rich, flavorful base — in this case, melted chocolate — while the whites get whipped to stiff peaks. Fold the whites into the base, transfer it to cups, and bake. So simple!
In the heat of the oven, the air trapped inside the whipped egg whites starts to expand; this lifts the whole soufflé, giving the finished dish a foamy, airy texture — a nice contrast to the richness of the base.
You'll notice there are an uneven number of whites and yolks in this recipe. The extra whites actually help to give the soufflés more height and poof.
What to Do with the Extra Yolks?
What Rises Must Also Fall
Soufflés will fall. You did nothing wrong — it's their nature. The delicate structure of the whipped egg foam isn't sturdy enough to support its own weight once the heat of the oven is no longer helping everything stay poofed.
But the idea that you need to rush the soufflés to the table and devour them before they collapse is just silly. Appreciate their domed beauty while it lasts and then dig in at your leisure. Soufflés that have started to slump a little are still just as delicious as when they first came out of the oven — plus you won't burn your tongue!
Lean in to the Slump
In fact, I say lean in to the slump once your soufflés start to fall. Dollop some fresh whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream into the newly formed basin or break the top of the soufflé and drizzle some warm caramel sauce inside. These extras are not bad things, I promise you.
A Few Tips for Soufflé Success
While this dessert is remarkably straight-forward, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Make sure your oven is preheated: Once the whites are whipped and mixed into the base, the soufflés need to go into the oven right away. Any wait time will mean less poof.
- Make the base, then whip the whites: Similarly, your whites will start to deflate if they have to sit on the counter while you prepare the base. Best to make the base first and whip the whites as the last step.
- Mix the whites into the base in stages: Mix the whites into the base in three separate batches. This helps lighten the base incrementally; if you added the whites all at once, not only would it be harder to stir them in evenly, but you'd also end up deflating them too much.
- Fold, don't stir: Instead of stirring, which (again) deflates the whites a bit too much, use a folding motion to incorporate the whites into the base. Cut through the middle of the bowl with the edge of your spatula, scoop along the bottom of the bowl, and then flip the batter over onto itself. Continue doing this, turning the bowl, until everything is incorporated.
- Don't open the oven door: Tempting as it is to peek, it's best to gaze upon your dessert through the window rather than open the door. Changes in temperature will mean less poof in your soufflés.
- Serve right away: While there's no need to rush to the table, soufflés are best when served warm. Set them out, divvy up the spoons, and dig in.
Love soufflés? Any other tips to share?
How To Make a Chocolate Soufflé
What You Need
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra to grease the soufflé dishes
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 large eggs yolks
1/2 cup sugar, divided, plus extra to coat the soufflé dishes
6 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 7-ounce or 8-ounce oven-safe ramekins, or a 1 1/2-quart soufflé dish
Medium heatproof bowl (or double-boiler)
Small saucepan (or double-boiler)
Spatula with a wide, flat head
Stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or clean bowl and hand mixer
- Heat the oven to 375°F.
- Prepare the soufflé dishes: Rub the insides of the ramekins or soufflé dish with butter. Coat with sugar by sprinkling a tablespoon of sugar in the bottom of each ramekin (or a scoop of sugar in the larger soufflé dish), and then tilting and tapping the dish to work the sugar into the corners and up the sides of the dish.
- Melt the chocolate: Combine the chocolate and 2 tablespoons of butter in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a small saucepan of barely simmering water — make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the surface of the water. (Alternatively, use a double-boiler.) Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until completely smooth.
- Cool the chocolate slightly: Remove the chocolate from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Let the chocolate cool until still very loose, but just slightly warm to the touch.
- Whisk together the yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar: Transfer the yolks to a mixing bowl. Measure out 1/4 cup of sugar and sprinkle over the yolks. Whisking by hand or in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the yolks and sugar together. They will start off bright yellow and will gradually lighten. The eggs and sugar are ready when light yellow in color, and the mixture forms ribbons that hold for a few seconds on the surface.
- Combine the chocolate and the yolks: Pour the yolks over the chocolate. Use a spatula to gently fold the chocolate and the yolks together until completely combined.
- Beat the eggs until frothy: Clean your mixing bowl thoroughly and make sure it is dry and free of any grease. Add the egg whites. Beat at gradually increasing speed until the whites are quite frothy and opaque.
- Add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form: With the mixer running at medium speed, gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar to the egg whites. Once all the sugar has been added, increase the speed to high and beat the whites until they form stiff peaks.
- Lighten the chocolate base: Scoop about 1/4 of the beaten egg whites into the bowl with the chocolate base. Stir them in until no visible egg whites remain. This lightens the base and makes it easier to add the rest of the egg whites without deflating them too much.
- Gently fold the egg whites into the base in two batches: Scoop half of the rest of the egg whites on top of the chocolate base. Using your spatula, cut through the center of the mixture, scoop the spatula underneath, then gently lift and flip the mixture over onto itself; this is called folding the egg whites into the base (it helps prevent deflating them too much). Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat the folding motion. Once this batch is nearly incorporated, add the remaining whites. Continue until you see no more visible egg whites in the base.
- Divide the soufflé batter between the prepared ramekins.
- Bake until the soufflés are puffed and the tops look dry: Bake small soufflés for 18 to 20 minutes, or one large soufflé for 35 to 40 minutes.
- Serve immediately!