Saturday, 23 January 2010

Chocolate & Ginger Soufflés

Jules's birthday delights
by Charlotte 

Right now it's all about the soufflé. How it started was a conversation between Jules and myself discussing soufflés and the fact that neither of us had ever made one and also the fact that they were meant to be hard and likely to go wrong and disappoint - I don't like to be disappointed, especially in the kitchen. Anyway, Jules went away to find some sun and while gone the Saturday Guardian magazine turned up with none other than a section on soufflés by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. He made it sound pretty simple and so I decided this had to be the dessert of choice for her birthday meal (a few days later).

Little did I know that en route to finding the sun Jules had picked up the same magazine and brought it back to show me. So, the night of the birthday meal there were soufflé recipes all over the kitchen!

Rach arrived with pink sparkling wine. Matt (ham enthusiast, formerly known as pizza oven enthusiast) turned up with some more pink sparkling, as did Ceri! This was drink of choice in 2009 and seems to be rolling over into 2010 which is only a good thing. Birthday guests assembled in the form of Charmy, cousin Louise and Rob and we tucked into Nigel Slater's quince jelly twice cooked ham with baked sweet potatoes and braised leeks and asparagus. Suddenly I realised that it was late, 10:30pm to be precise so we decided to do a pudding poll which was a unanimous 'yes' when I mentioned chocolate and ginger soufflés. I hadn't started making them as you need to have ingredients like butter and eggs at room temperature, make, bake and then eat them straight away before any unfortunate deflating occurs!

So, I followed Hugh's instructions word for word, melting the chocolate and finally folding in the well beaten egg whites (thanks to ham enthusiast) before placing them in the hot oven - hot is key! We then waited patiently for 9 minutes while they cooked and rose - you're not allowed to open the oven and check so for me this was a particularly tense moment and I did prepare myself for the worst, telling everyone that they would probably not work. So when I opened the oven and saw 8 perfectly risen balloons of chocolate I was overjoyed, as was everyone else. There was one slippery moment when Ceri and I almost dropped the baking tray with the ramekins on, which someone managed to capture on camera. The end result can only be described as a mouth wateringly rich, hot mousse with cake like texture around the side, light and delicious. Here are the finished delights, and despite the holding of the breath when I opened the oven door all was well. The recipe was easy to follow and I recommend baking sweet or savoury soufflés if you want to impress anyone, including yourself. Thanks Hugh!

Best served (a new feature on all Charlotte posts) with a round of applause and some sparkling pink fizz.

Chocolate and ginger soufflés

Melting, dark chocolate is given a bit of a kick with fiery ginger to make for a decadent pud. Serves eight.

20g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering the ramekins
75g caster sugar, plus 3 tbsp for dusting the ramekins 
225g 70% cocoa dark chocolate, broken into pieces
80ml whole milk
3 eggs, at room temperature, separated
20g stem ginger, drained and very finely chopped, plus 1 tbsp syrup from the jar of stem ginger 
1 egg white, at room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
200ml whipping cream

Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Butter eight 140ml ramekins and dust with the three tablespoons of caster sugar. Melt the chocolate, butter and milk in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering ­water. Stir until smooth, remove from the heat and beat in the egg yolks. Stir in the chopped ginger.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy and forming soft peaks. Gradually beat in the sugar until the mixture forms firm peaks when you lift out the whisk. Fold a third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen, then carefully fold in the rest. Divide the mixture between the ramekins, filling them to the top, then run a knife or thumbnail around the edge to help them rise. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for eight to 10 minutes, until risen.

While they're baking, whip the cream until thickened and stir in the ginger syrup. Serve the soufflés as soon as they come out of the oven, with some ginger cream on the side.


"The road to the masterchef finals is littered with the ghosts of failed souffles" Greg Wallace, Masterchef judge. Go Charl! I was impressed on the night and I am impressed still. Oh, and sorry that I nearly dropped them! I would never have forgiven myself! xx

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