The ultimate in dessert commitment, chocolate soufflé is decadent, yet people shy away from it because of all the last-minute work (and the fear that it won’t rise). In this recipe, we borrow a technique from Chef Jacques Torres and use a stable Italian meringue base (rather than standard whipped egg whites) to help hold the soufflé’s shape—a sort of aeration insurance. (This technique allows it to be made up to 12 hours ahead of time!) Combine it with our Blood Orange Crème Anglaise for a perfect dessert pairing.
You can find a pastry brush at kitchen supply stores or online.
Game plan: Make sure the bowl you whip the egg whites in is very clean.
The crème anglaise can be made well before you start the soufflé—even the day before. For a slacker solution, nix the sauce and pair this with ice cream or pour a little orange-flavored liqueur such as Cointreau on the soufflé just as you serve it.
1Using a pastry brush, brush a 2-cup soufflé dish with melted butter. Start brushing the dish from the center of the base and work out and up the rim. Coat the dish with sugar and tap out excess. To form a collar, fold a long (about 19-inch) piece of waxed or parchment paper in half and trim it to fit around the dish, so that it extends at least 1 inch above the top of the dish. Brush the interior of the collar with butter, and wrap it around the exterior of the dish with the buttered side facing inward. Secure with kitchen twine, a rubber band, or tape. Chill in the refrigerator until butter is firm.
2Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour cream over chocolate, let stand 1 minute, and stir until chocolate is melted and evenly combined.
3Combine 1/4 cup sugar and water in a small saucepan, set over medium-high heat, and attach a candy thermometer. Bring to a boil and cook until mixture reaches 243°F, about 5 minutes. (Sugar will be completely dissolved and syrup will be clear.)
4Meanwhile, put egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on high until soft peaks form, about 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer running on high, slowly pour hot syrup in a thin stream down the bowl into the egg whites. Continue beating until stiff peaks form and meringue is warm (not hot), about 3 minutes.
5Fold 1/2 of the meringue into the chocolate mixture until just mixed. Add remaining meringue and fold until just incorporated. Spoon meringue into the prepared dish and fill within 1/2 inch of the rim. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 12 hours.
6Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange the rack in the bottom third. Remove soufflé from the refrigerator for 30 minutes while the oven preheats. Five minutes before baking, place a baking sheet on the rack. After five minutes, place soufflé on the heated baking sheet and bake until it is well risen, the top is browned, the edges appear dry, and the center is set (not moving if lightly touched), about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove collar and serve immediately with Blood Orange Crème Anglaise.
Beverage pairing: Pair this rich dessert with a glass of 2005 Bologna Brachetto d’Acqui. This elegant, sweet sparkling red wine from the Italian region of Piedmont is brimming with juicy red berry fruits and hints of blood orange.