Monday, February 6, 2012

Julia Child's Classic Cheese Soufflé (1/24) Part One

When people think of soufflés, people tend to think of two varieties of soufflés: cheese and chocolate. And when people think of cheese soufflés, people tend to think of Julia Child, so naturally, this recipe was first up to bat. A chocolate soufflé is on deck.

The recipe begins with setting your oven to 400 degrees, steaming some milk, and melting some butter.

After the butter melts, you make what's essentially a roux by adding some flour.

Stir to combine for about three minutes, making sure not to brown the roux.

Once you add the steaming milk, whisk until smooth, almost like a creamy liquid cheesecake filling.

Add some paprika, salt, and nutmeg to make the end product more than just a cheese mountain.

The soufflé filling should feel somewhat thick and resistant at this point.

To finish off the filling, add in four large egg yolks. Add the yolks in slowly and whisk concurrently to avoid cooking the eggs and curdling.

Leave the filling out to cool to room temperature and prepare your 1.5-quart soufflé dish. Butter the base and sides and dust with grated parmesan cheese to prevent the soufflé from sticking to the dish.

To create the base of this soufflé, whip up some egg whites and grate some gruyere cheese. The egg whites should be whipped enough to be somewhat stiff, but not dry. If you don't know what dry egg whites look like (I definitely didn't before this), take an egg white and whip it to oblivion while observing how the egg whites transform. At a certain point, the whites will be so aerated that they lose all of their moisture.

Alternate between adding a layer of egg whites followed by a layer of gruyere. This base is what is, hopefully, going to lift the soufflé.

Finally, add the lukewarm filling on top and bask in your layering skills.

And with some nostalgia of many a roast chicken, send your dish off to the oven, and lower the temperature immediately to 375 degrees.

FAIL. The first time I attempted this recipe about a week ago, the soufflé didn't rise at all. It didn't even touch the lip of the dish. Basically, it sunk. Upon further reflection, I realized that I hadn't lowered the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Whoops. Luckily, the flavors were still all there, so my friends and I still thoroughly enjoyed this with some steak and veggies.

This past weekend, I made another attempt and I swear the soufflé rose. Unfortunately, it fell in about 20 seconds, so I couldn't get a picture of the soufflé in all its glory. I thought this picture would do, but next time I'll just assume that it's going to fall in five seconds and take the picture right when I take it out of the oven.

The end result, both times, was delicious. The creamy gruyere and comforting taste of parmesan hit me over the head with each bite. The egg whites hinted at a cheese quiche and the lightly toasted cap added the only texture to the soufflé. I think the recipe could have used a little bit more paprika and definitely some more salt. Next time, I'd probably also add some thyme in to give the flavor profile of this soufflé some kick.

Despite these needed adjustments, the soufflé was a great way to kick off this project. If anything, it set a baseline for the flavor profile of a savory soufflé. I'll probably do a spinoff based on this soufflé during the second half of the year.

I know I'm already behind, but soufflé number two went into the oven last night, so expect another post soon.


  1. Mike, I'm confuzzled. Did you layer the whites, cheese, and roux-yolk base separately in the souffle dish, rather than folding them all together? Because that's what it looks like in the photo!

    1. Separately, according to the recipe! So, whites, cheese, whites, cheese, whites, cheese, filling.


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