Bon Appétit (February 2011)
It may be March, and we may be past the season of Thanksmas Year's Eventine's Day indulgence. But that doesn't mean our sweet tooth is satisfied, nor that our lust for chocolate has abated.
We actually made these soufflés for a Valentine's dinner at home (which seems like forever ago), but they're tasty and simple enough to make a special end to any meal.
But the real star here is the Orange Blossom Cream, which elevates this from a perfectly tasty little soufflé to become a really special dessert. It's a basic whipped cream transformed by orange zest and one very special ingredient, orange-flower water.
Orange-flower water (or orange-blossom water) is a clear, natural extract distilled from fresh bitter-orange blossoms. It's used in French cuisine and in a lot of traditional Middle Eastern dishes.
Fortunately, we live within one block of two Middle Eastern grocery stores (!), so it was easy for us to find some. According to Bon Appétit, you can also find orange-flower water in the baking aisle of larger supermarkets, or in a liquor store. You can also order some from gourmetsleuth.com. (Or you can try making your own -- it's a great way to use up those leftover "orange flower petals, preferably from Seville orange trees" that we've all got lying around our kitchens.)
Even the small amount of orange-flower water in this recipe (3/4 teaspoon) infuses the whipped cream with a heady, delicate perfume of oranges. Actually, it's not even that orangey, because it's the flavor of the blossoms themselves. It's more aromatic, almost like jasmine or a citrusy sweet basil. It's absolutely lovely, and it's such a great pairing with the bittersweet chocolate in the soufflé.
And the best part is, now we've got a bottle of orange-flower water in our pantry. We're already dreaming up ways to use it in cocktails, sorbets, salad dressings -- or even crazier things like roast chicken or a BBQ sauce. Got any ideas for us?
(This photo: Bon Appétit)
Bittersweet Cocoa Soufflés
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), finely chopped
Orange Blossom Cream (see below)
8 2/3- to 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups
Butter eight 2/3- to 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups; dust with sugar, completely coating to top edge. Whisk 1/2 cup sugar, flour, and 1/8 teaspoon (scant) salt in small saucepan. Pour 2/3 cup milk into measuring cup; whisk enough milk from cup into saucepan to form thick paste (2 to 3 tablespoons), then gradually whisk in remaining milk from cup. Stir over medium-low heat until bubbles begin to form around edges of pan. Continue cooking until slightly thickened, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Add cocoa powder, remaining 2 tablespoons milk, egg yolks, and vanilla; stir until smooth, thick paste forms.
Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, beating on high speed until firm peaks form. Add 1/4 of whites to chocolate mixture; fold to blend. Add remaining beaten egg whites and chopped chocolate and fold until whites are just blended into batter. Divide batter among prepared ramekins; place on rimmed baking sheet. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake soufflés until puffed above rim of ramekin and toothpick inserted into center comes out with thick batter attached, about 12 minutes (15 minutes for chilled soufflés). Using spoon, form small indentation in top of each soufflé; spoon dollop of Orange Blossom Cream into indentations. Serve immediately.
Orange Blossom Cream
Makes about 2 cups
PREP TIME: 10 minutes | TOTAL TIME: 10 minutes
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
3/4 teaspoon orange-flower water
(Orange-flower water can be found in the liquor aisle or baking section of some supermarkets and at liquor stores and Middle Eastern markets.)
Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients in medium bowl until peaks form. DO AHEAD: Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewhisk before serving.