Ah, the souffle. A word with such baggage. When I hear it, I think of a light, airy dish that requires the artful hands and eyes of Julia Child and the attention to detail of Martha Stewart to master. As I am neither Julia Child nor Martha Stewart, the atmosphere in my kitchen during the making of chocolate souffle, this week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe (chosen by Susan of She's Becoming Doughmesstic) was, in a word, tense.
I was very concerned with the souffle turning out perfectly, so I decided to use my oven thermometer to make sure that the temperature gauge on the oven in my new/old apartment in London was still accurate. The fact that I couldn't seem to get the oven to reach the listed baking temperature of 400F was worrisome, and more stressful than it normally would have been. When I set the temperature to 400F, the oven went up to 425F. When I dropped it down to 375F, it registered 375F exactly. I upped the dial slightly, and it rested at 390F. My boyfriend didn't understand why I was so concerned about a 10 degree difference. "It's a souffle," I whined. "It's very scientific. It has to be exact." Since this was my first-ever souffle, I of course didn't know for sure how scientific it was, or how exact I needed to be in its preparation. But I did know that souffles are finicky, and I didn't want to take any chances. Eventually, we got the oven to register 400F.
By this point, I had folded two whipped egg whites (I was halving the recipe) into a mixture of melted chocolate, sugar, and egg yolks. I poured the mixture into the buttered and sugared ramekins. I glanced at the kitchen table, where I had stored in ramekins the ingredients I would need. "Why," I thought, "Is there still an unused egg white on the table?"
I looked at the recipe again and realized I was supposed to whip and fold in three egg whites. So much for being exact. Together with my boyfriend, I poured the souffle back into the mixing bowl, hoping the butter and sugar from the ramekins wouldn't ruin it, and folded in the additional whipped egg white. Then I poured the mixture into three newly buttered and sugared ramekins, before baking them for 20 minutes.
Despite my fumbling, they were fantastic. Light and airy as Julia Child's would be, maybe, although not as picture-perfect as Martha's. The chocolate flavour was still rich, and the sugar crust enhanced the chocolate flavour very much. I could eat this again and again, although luckily for my health, there were no leftovers. Just three happy eaters. Thanks for your choice, Susan!