Cheese Soufflé

From Cook's Illustrated | January/February 2014

Why this recipe works:

We wanted a cheese soufflé with bold cheese flavor, good stature, a light, but not-too-airy texture, without the fussiness of most recipes. To bump up the cheese flavor without weighing it down, we added light-but-potent Parmesan cheese to the Gruyère. To get the texture just right… read more

We wanted a cheese soufflé with bold cheese flavor, good stature, a light, but not-too-airy texture, without the fussiness of most recipes. To bump up the cheese flavor without weighing it down, we added light-but-potent Parmesan cheese to the Gruyère. To get the texture just right while keeping the preparation simple, we beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, and then—rather than carefully folding them into the cheese-bechamel—just add the sauce right to the mixer, and beat everything until uniform.

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Cheese Soufflé

The first thing to know about cheese soufflé is that while it should look dramatic, making it shouldn’t be. (Don’t worry: It won’t fall.)

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Serves 4 to 6

Serve this soufflé with a green salad for a light dinner. Comté, sharp cheddar, or gouda cheese can be substituted for the Gruyère. To prevent the soufflé from overflowing the soufflé dish, leave at least 1 inch of space between the top of the batter and the rim of the dish; any excess batter should be discarded. The most foolproof way to test for doneness is with an instant-read thermometer. To judge doneness without an instant-read thermometer, use two large spoons to pry open the soufflé so that you can peer inside it; the center should appear thick and creamy but not soupy.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Instructions

  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-inch round (2-quart) soufflé dish with vegetable oil spray, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Parmesan.

    2. Combine flour, paprika, salt, cayenne, white pepper, and nutmeg in bowl. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour mixture and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk and bring to simmer. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and smooth, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and whisk in Gruyère and 5 tablespoons Parmesan until melted and smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes, then whisk in egg yolks and 1½ teaspoons parsley.

    3. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Add cheese mixture and continue to whip until fully combined, about 15 seconds.

    4. Pour mixture into prepared dish and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Bake until risen above rim, top is deep golden brown, and interior registers 170 degrees, 30 to 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining ½ teaspoon parsley and serve immediately.

Soufflé Myths Debunked

MYTH: The soufflé will collapse from loud noises or sudden movements.

REALITY: Steam will keep a hot soufflé fully inflated. No loud noise or slamming of the oven door can change that.


MYTH: The egg whites must be gently folded into the base.

REALITY: Egg whites whipped to stiff peaks will have ample structure to handle aggressive beating, even in a stand mixer.


MYTH: Prodding to check doneness will make it collapse.

REALITY: A soufflé is not a balloon; it’s a matrix of very fine bubbles. No tool can pop enough of them to cause it to fall.


MYTH: You can’t make a fallen soufflé rise again.

REALITY: Yes, your soufflé will fall after it’s been out of the oven for about 5 minutes. But returning it to a 350-degree oven will convert the water back into steam and reinflate it (it will lose about ½ inch of height).


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