I recently teamed up with my friend Erin from Hot Dinner Happy Home to tackle the much-feared souffle. And today, we share our experience with you.
Erin: Wimp. Yellow-belly. Coward. Fraidy-cat.
I consider myself all of the above. I refused to ride a roller coaster until I was 13, and even then it required incredibly strong peer pressure. I cried when my husband tried to coerce me down a slightly steep ski slope. And, unfortunately, this character trait has crept into my kitchen. There are things I deliberately avoid making because, well, I’m scared. I shudder when I read “yeast” in an ingredient list. And deep-frying? Oy. Dangerous.
Stef: A natural competitor lurks within. It started as a very small child. A crib couldn’t confine me, I’d crawl out of it. I read 116 books as a second grader to ensure I won the Bubble Gum Book Report Award. Anyone can walk on their feet, so I decided I would walk on my hands. While my inner daredevil may have been tamed a bit over the years, my competitive nature will never die.
I’ve been cooking for quite some time now and occasionally step out of my comfort zone. But recently, I got the urge for a challenge. So I enlisted a friend to embark on a culinary adventure.
Erin: Yes, and I was that lucky friend! Stef was willing to drag me out of complacency to try something new. Armed with room-temperature egg whites and a powerful stand mixer, we were ready to tackle the (nearly) impossible. We, Stef and Erin, regular gals on a cooking crusade, would make a souffle.
Bacon Artichoke Souffle
unsalted butter for greasing
5 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese
4 1/2 TBSP unsalted butter
3 1/2 TBSP all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C whole milk
6 large egg yolks
10 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, squeezed of excess water and finely chopped
4 ounces cooked bacon, crumbled
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
8 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
Cook bacon according to directions. Crumble and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the souffle dish by thoroughly greasing the bottom and sides with a stick of unsalted butter. Once coated, spoon in 3 TBSP grated Parmesan and coat the dish. Set aside.
In a large sauce pan, make a modified blonde roux by melting 4 1/2 TBSP unsalted butter and slowly whisking in flour, until fully dissolved. Continue to whisk as it bubbles, about 20 seconds. Do not allow it to brown. Slowly whisk in milk, continuing until the mixture comes to a simmer and thickens. Remove pan from heat.
One at a time, whisk in egg yolks, creating a smooth mixture. Continually whisk to avoid making scrambled eggs in the still hot mixture. Next, stir in bacon, artichokes, dill, pepper, nutmeg and 2 TBSP Parmesan cheese. Whisk until combined. Set aside.
With an electric mixer on high-speed, making sure your bowl is fully clean and dry, add room temperature egg whites and salt. Beat mixture until whites are smooth and shiny and create stiff peaks. The mixture should increase about eightfold in volume.
Delicately fold 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the sauce pan with a rubber spatula. Next fold the sauce pan mixture back into the egg white mixture, turning over the egg whites with the sauce until combined.
Once combined, gently spoon (do not pour!) the mixture into your souffle dish. Place in oven, close the door, and immediately decrease the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Do not disturb the souffle by opening the oven door. When complete, the top of the souffle should be browned and crusted. Take out of the oven and serve immediately, as souffles deflate once they lose steam.
Stef: Success. That souffle had nothing on us. Airy, fluffy, crispy on top and bursting with bacon-y goodness. With a kitchen victory under our belts, we indulged in our culinary delight with a glass (or two) of crisp white wine. Even the baby gobbled a healthy serving of souffle. Who knew souffle was family friendly?
Erin: In addition to being delicious, it wasn’t even that hard. Stef, thanks for showing me that it’s worth it to step outside your comfort zone! Now, about that packet of yeast that’s been languishing in my cupboard…
What is your biggest cooking fear or challenge? We’d love for you to share!