National chocolate souffle day
February 28th, 2013
09:00 AM ET
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While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.

Don't let dessert plans fall flat - February 28 is National Chocolate Soufflé Day.

Chocolate soufflé is one of those intimidating desserts that people love to order at restaurants but can't fathom making at home. And for good reason - soufflés are notoriously tricky to make and require precision, time management and focus.

Basics first: A soufflé can be sweet or savory, it all depends on the custard. Custard plus whipped egg whites equals soufflé. Pretty simple thus far, no?

Most fine dining establishments serve their soufflés puffing out of individually-sized bowls, also called ramekins. Take this tip home – the larger the surface area that your soufflé has to climb up, the higher it’ll go. A smaller bowl means a larger surface area for each soufflé. Also, don’t use a ramekin that has a lip on the inside, you want something that’s smooth and goes straight up from the base.

Most recipes call for egg whites with soft peaks. If you're not exactly sure what that means, you can turn the bowl the beaten whites are in upside-down. If they end up on the floor, they weren’t beaten enough. Or, you can simply stick the beater into the egg whites and invert that to see if the egg whites stay rounded or curled on top of it, which is probably less risky and much cleaner.

Once your eggs are sufficiently beaten, you’ll need to incorporate them into your custard (your room temperature custard to be precise). A warm custard will take the air bubbles right out of your egg whites. It’d be a shame to ruin all that hard work and start over, so be patient.

Then comes the folding. Again, another odd term. Think of it this way, custard and egg whites don’t want to be forced together any more than you want to go out with the guy/gal your mom met at the supermarket and thinks would be perfect for you. Just like you’d want to get to know that person, egg whites and custard deserve the same respect. They want to get to know each other...slowly. Bit-by-bit they feel each other out until they decide they can be as one. You aren't stirring!

As your beautiful soufflés come out of the oven, don’t be surprised if they fall.  Ideally, they’d stay perfect until your guests devoured them, but it’s not going to happen - science forbids it. Tiny steam bubbles form within the soufflé and cause it to rise. Once that steam cools down, your soufflé will deflate. It happens, even to the pros. If the thought of serving a fallen soufflé to guests terrifies you, remember that this is what berries and whipped cream are for. Google image search "chocolate soufflé" and see how many have something covering up the imperfections. It’s the taste that matters here the most.

Chocolate soufflés rely a lot on technique, but luckily none of it is too hard to master. And, even if you have a few flops on the way to perfection, no one will complain that they have to eat your mistake batches.

Spirits still deflated? Rise to the occasion with this step-by-step chocolate soufflé tutorial.

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Filed under: Breakfast Buffet • Food Holidays • News

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  1. M T Nest

    Oh yum! That looks good, but, ya can't go wrong w/anything chocolate!

    February 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
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