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Anyone planning on making a soufflé for your honey on Valentine's Day? Sweet or savory, a warm and pillowy soufflé definitely makes an impression! We also think they're a lot less fussy than their reputation makes them out to be...

These three factors are the key to soufflé success:

1. Turn on the Oven and Prepare the Pan First - Do these two things before you even crack an egg. A soufflé also waits for no cook, and once you've whipped those egg whites and folded them into the soufflé base, it needs to go right in the oven. If it has to sit while you butter the dish or heat the oven, you'll lose much of the volume from the egg whites.

2. Whip and Fold in the Egg Whites Last - All of the lovely, airy volume in your finished soufflé comes from the whipped egg whites. In the oven, each little air bubble trapped in the egg whites will expand, pushing the soufflé up. If you whip and fold in the egg whites last, you'll get best volume in your finished soufflé.

3. Eat Your Soufflé Right Away! - A soufflé is not a dish that holds well. It begins to collapse almost as soon as you take it from the oven. This is because the bubbles lifting the soufflé start to contract as the air inflating them cools. The solution to this is to eat it right away!

If you're preparing a dessert soufflé and want to avoid a lot of last minute work, you can prepare the dish and the soufflé base (everything except the egg whites) ahead of time. Turn on the oven when you sit down to eat. This way, all you have to do when it comes time for dessert is whip up the egg whites, fold them into the base, and cook the soufflé!

The soufflé is done when the top is toasted brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (though some people like a runnier middle in their soufflé).

Don't worry too much about the myth that you can't open the door while the soufflé is cooking or it will collapse. In our experience, as long as you're not opening the door every few minutes, the soufflé will re-inflate once you close the door and the oven returns to temperature. It will really only start to completely collapse when you take it out of the oven to serve it.

Ready to give soufflés a try? Here are a few tempting recipes from our archives:

Raspberry Soufflé
Crockpot Orange Soufflé

And a few others from around the web:

Bittersweet Chocolate Soufflé with Early Grey Cream Sauce from Epicurious
Goat Cheese Soufflé from Epicurious
Alton Brown's Cheese Soufflé from the Food Network
The Madam's Soufflé Recipe from 101 Cookbooks
Asparagus Soufflé from Simply Recipes

Do you have a favorite soufflé recipe of your own?

Related: Food Science: Why Some Batters Need to Rest

(Image: Flickr member St0rmz licensed under Creative Commons)