I'd never heard of such a thing, and doing a quick Google search I saw nothing quite like it. Leave it to Martha to come up with something so cool and totally original.
I'm not kidding when I say that this is seriously one of the more delicious things I've tasted in awhile. And my coworkers agree, too. Its presentation is both elegant (for an occasion more formal) and funky (for something that's casual and fun). It's versatile, people.
The soufflé base is modeled after another great Martha recipe, which dices the cheese into tiny cubes, making for a string cheese-like interior when it exits the oven. When you dig into the center with your fork, you'll pull away with strings of wispy, gooey cheese. And because the cheeses are all mountain cheeses—Gruyere, Appenzeller, Emmenthaler, and Comte, specifically—you'll get that great intersection of the sweet and savory, tasting like a nutty brown butter or rich, nearly sweet cream.
There are steps involved, and it'll take some time, but it's worth it: Trim the artichokes. Steam and hollow them out. Brush them all over with melted butter. Fill the leaves with lemony, fresh breadcrumbs. And finally, make the soufflé itself.
The best part is that your utensil is deliciously, efficiently edible. And by using the outer leaves to dip into the molten center, you'll wind up with a crazy tasty crunch in every bite: a sprinkling of those buttery breadcrumbs at the base of each leaf that toast during baking, adding one more compelling layer to this all-in-one soufflé.
You'll need a knife towards the end of eating, though, where the artichoke heart is tender and buttery, and (of course) also smothered with the soufflé. There's something about the reward of getting to the heart that becomes all the more sweet when there's an eggy, gooey, layer on top.
As far as soufflés go, this one's pretty forgiving. It's important to follow the recipe, of course. The most important tips: Don't overwork your egg whites into your soufflé base of the flour, butter, egg yolk, half & half, and cheese. Keep a light hand and remember to fold rather than mix your egg whites. Also, be sure that your cheese/flour mixture has cooled when you fold in the egg whites. And once your soufflé makes it into your artichoke vessels, transfer it immediately to the oven, and don't peek by opening the oven door! It'll sacrifice the integrity of the final product.
You'll care more about the outcome of the dish itself than on some of the other usual hang-ups that other soufflé recipes can pose, though: Is it airy enough? Did it rise evenly? Did it rise at all? Can you get it to the table before it deflates? You won't be stressed about these soufflé quandaries, because this one is truly all about the Cheese and the Artichoke. The rest is just gravy.
Get the recipe: Cheese Soufflé-Stuffed Artichokes from Martha Stewart
Nora Singley used to be a cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop in New York City, where she continues to teach cheese classes for the public. She is currently a TV Chef on The Martha Stewart Show.
Related: How to Make a Souffle
(Images: Nora Singley)