Five bottles of champagne split between six people is how I started my new year. At the time, I wasn't thinking much about what I wanted to accomplish in the coming year. But now that I have had some time to reflect upon where my life currently is versus where I want it to be, I am a little overwhelmed at the thought of all the decisions and all of the work ahead of me. I won't say I have any particular new year's resolutions. I think they are stupid, like diets. Why only make resolutions once a year? Why not start pursuing your goals the second you form them, regardless of whether it's January or August? That's not to say having aspirations is stupid, on the contrary I think it's healthy and wonderful to continuously want to better yourself, and I definitely have a vision of where I want to be by this time next year. So instead of the term "new year's resolutions", lets call them "forever life goals."
A few of mine: Quit being so lazy and get my ass off the couch more often. Figure out what I'm passionate about and pursue it. Don't be afraid to make decisions that will displease other people if it means I will be happier in the long run. Eat my way through New York City. Cook with ingredients and methods I currently find intimidating. Stay in touch with friends, old and new. Travel more. Be bold. Be patient. Be kind.
And now that I've spilled my guts to all of you, I'm going to count these cheese soufflés as a step toward one of those goals.
Nowadays, soufflés seem destined to the pages of dusty outdated cookbooks rather than on anyone's dinner plate. While they may have been all the rage during Julia Child's heyday, I personally can't recall one instance in the last few years where I have seen them on a restaurant menu, and I like to eat out a lot. A lot. They're usually depicted as fussy or comical on television, which is not entirely untrue. The first time I made a soufflé, I didn't realize it had to be served immediately, so after being removed from the oven, it sat to the side while I went on to make the rest of dinner. Ten minutes later I was moping over the sad, cavernous state of what had previously been a tall, puffy and magnificent cheese soufflé. But really, as long as you have the forethought to gather your guests at the dinner table beforehand, soufflés can be impressive, delicious, and almost effortless.
Adapted from The New York Times
Soufflés need to be served immediately or they will collapse within a few minutes, though it varies depending on the size of your baking vessel. I find that soufflés baked in individual ramekins collapse within five minutes, whereas if you bake one large soufflé, it stays puffy for maybe twice as long since it cools slower due to more volume and less surface area.
When pouring the batter, I leave about 1 to 2 centimeters of room to prevent overflow, however if you want super duper tall soufflés you can fill the batter all the way to the brim and tie a parchment paper collar around the outside of your baking vessel(s) to give it more height, then simply remove it prior to serving. It's a little fussy for my taste, but I can see the appeal if you really want show-stopper height.
Makes four 14 oz soufflés.
1 small shallot, finely minced (about 2 tbsp)
45 grams (3 tbsp) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing molds
45 grams (scant 6 tbsp) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting molds
1 & 3/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
freshly ground white pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
6 large egg yolks
35 grams (1/4 cup, packed) grated parmesan
35 grams (1/4 cup, packed) grated emmentaler
100 grams (scant 1 cup, packed) grated gruyere
7 large egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare four 14 oz ramekins by brushing them with a thin layer of softened butter and dusting them with a thin layer of flour.
In a medium to large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and cook shallots for 1 to 2 minutes until softened but not browned. Add flour and cook while whisking constantly for 1 minute. Add milk in two additions, whisking well after each addition to create a smooth béchamel sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes until thickened. Add salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg, then whisk to combine. Let sauce cool for 5 minutes before adding egg yolks and whisking until smooth. Stir in grated cheeses (they don't need to melt completely, some solid pieces are good for texture), then transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form, taking care not to over-whip the whites or they will become grainy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer a quarter of the whipped egg whites to the cheese sauce mixture and gently fold in. Add the rest of the egg whites and gently fold until smooth.
Divide batter evenly between the four ramekins and transfer to a large baking pan to catch any overflow. Place in oven and immediately turn heat down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until fluffy and golden brown on top. Remove from oven and serve immediately.