I have a confession to make. Until recently, I’d never made a soufflé. Those miracles of egg and cheese and air and lightness always intimidated me. How stiff do the egg whites have to be? Will it they collapse in the oven? How the heck do you serve from that large soufflé dish? I decided it was time to address these important questions. Armed with some handy tips from a back issue of Cooks Illustrated, I boldly ventured into my first soufflé experiment – and it was a grand success. Baking the batter in small sized ramekins solved the most vexing problem, that of serving technique. The rest of the credit for this recipe’s success goes to the fabulous, farm-fresh duck eggs from Bearbrook Game Meats and the delicious Hillbilly Buffalo Milk Cheese from Canreg Station Farm & Pasture Dairy, both of which were in my wintertime Farmers’ Feast challenge basket from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market. Paired with a green salad, these soufflés made for a very scrumptious lunch.
1 teaspoon (5 mL) butter
1 tablespoon (15 mL) finely grated cheese (Hillbilly, Gruyere, Pecorino or Gouda)
2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter
1 tablespoon (15 mL) flour
Dash each of paprika, cayenne, white pepper and nutmeg
1/3 cup (90 mL) milk
1 extra large duck egg or two large chicken eggs, separated
1 teaspoon (5 mL) minced fresh parsley
Pinch cream of tartar
1/3 cup (90 mL) shredded cheese (Hillbilly, Gruyere, Pecorino or Gouda)
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350F.
With the 1 teaspoon of butter, grease the inside (bottom and sides) of two 6 ounce (200 mL) ramekins.
Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of finely grated cheese inside the dishes, shaking to coat evenly.
Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Add flour, paprika, cayenne, white pepper and nutmeg to the melted butter and stir to combine well. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Slowly whisk in milk and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes, whisking often, until it is smooth and thickened.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the 1/3 cup grated cheese.
Let mixture cool for 5 minutes, stirring often, then beat in egg yolk(s).
Using an electric mixer, beat egg white(s) with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form (this takes about 4 minutes). Add the cheese, milk and egg yolk mixture to the whipped egg whites and whip until fully combined (about 20 seconds).
Pour the batter into the prepared ramekins; there should be at least 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) of headspace.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until tops have puffed up and are turning golden brown. You can test for doneness with an instant-read thermometer; the inside of the soufflés should be 170F.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.
Makes two mini soufflés.