Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Souffle for Two

I'm terrible at Math. I've never liked the subject and, in school took the minimal amount of Math possible to graduate. That means I only took three years in high school and one measly semester in college, and let me tell you, they were both a long time ago.

Yet, math seems to always rear its ugly head my way. Like when I was a Senior in college and had to take the GRE for grad school, or when I'm trying to convert recipes from the metric system to our measurements. Luckily, I married an engineer who loves math, so Gian Luca usually takes care of all of the mathematical requirements in the house.

But yesterday, in honor of Mardi Gras, I wanted to surprise him with chocolate souffles. Now, I know that sounds daunting, but I am a self proclaimed souffle queen, and nothing about the process is scary to me. That is, until I realized that unless I wanted to make 24 souffles, I'd need to do a little math.

See, a normal batch for me would be 24 souffles, because I am used to making restaurant quantities of these guys. I don't even have the recipe written down, because, for six summers of my life, I'd unlock the door to my brother's restaurant at 9 am, turn on the lights to the empty kitchen, hook up my Ipod to listen to some U2 and whip up a batch before hitting the beach. In less than an hour, I could make 24 souffles and be out the door before the prime hours of sun hit. And, I did this seven days a week. So I never even had to think of writing down the recipe until yesterday.

First of all, we don't even own 24 souffle cups, so of course, making a whole batch was not an option. But I vaguely remembered that the original recipe started out as one for 8 souffles. Still too many for us, but at least that would be manageable.

I scoured the apartment for a calculator but was not able to find one, so I figured I could divide on my own. If a 6th grader could do this math, so could I. I grabbed my pen and paper, writing down the recipe for 24, them dividing it by 3, then finally dividing that by 4 to get the lonely two souffles which we would enjoy.

I was skeptical- what recipe calls for 1/2 a tablespoon of butter? And how in the world would I fluff up one egg white?

I pulled on an apron and turned on some U2 for good luck.

Low and behold, the batter looked and smelled fine ( and the lonely egg white did whip up just fine). And when we baked them hours later, they rose in all their splendor, just like a normal souffle at my brother's restaurant. And, given the mathematics that I went through to make them, they tasted even better.

Chocolate Souffle
This recipe yeilds two souffles. It can easily be multiplied to make any amount necessary.

2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 ounce of unsweetened chocolate
1/2 tablespoon of butter ( plus more for coating the souffle cups)
1/2 tablespoon of flour
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar ( plus more for coating the souffle cups)
1 egg ( separated)
1 teaspoon powdered sugar

1. Coat the inside of two souffle cups with butter, making sure to get the sides and the top rim. Roll sugar in the cups, making sure to coat the entire inside, sides, and top rim. This will allow the souffle to rise.

2. Chop the chocolate into small pieces to make melting easier.

3. In a small saucepot, melt butter over a low flame. Add the flour and stir until it forms a paste. Add the milk and stir to form a roux. ( Make sure that all the flour/butter mixture has melted into the milk. If needed add a tablespoon more milk.) Stir until thick.

4. Add the sugar and chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts. Remove from flame. Transfer the chocolate mixture into a bowl and allow to cool slightly.

5. Add the egg yolk to the chocolate mixture and stir well.

6. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until it forms a soft peak. Add the powdered sugar and continue mixing until it forms thick peaks.

7. Slowly fold the egg white into the chocolate mixture, being careful not to deflate the white.

8. Pour batter into prepared ramekins. At this point the souffles can be refrigerated until ready to bake. They are best baked the day they are made, but will keep in the fridge for up to three days.

9. To bake the souffles- preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the souffle dishes on a baking sheet ( this makes removing them so much easier). Bake on the middle rack for 25-30 minutes.

10. Top with powdered sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream and strawberries. Enjoy!


  1. I love that you were able to pare the recipe down to make just two. I'm math-phobic too and took the bare minimum in h.s. then studied like a banshee to get a decent grade on the GREs. I'm married to an engineer too, so that definitely helps whenever I need a quick answer. I will be making these souffles in the future.

  2. Oh yum! Thanks for sharing this recipe - great job on the math calculations!

  3. First - I love the history - I stayed away from GRE's because of the math - although in NYC - for some Master's programs if you do not go for a math subject - they discount it. So had a grand laugh. Second - the souffles are perfect. And now that you have done the math (I, too married an engineer)these souffles are definitely in my future!

  4. nothing like some u2 to bring on the kitchen mojo. :) i'm glad you were able to minimize the recipe--it looks like a keeper!

  5. I am terrible at math but I married an enginner too... :)

    The souffles look wonderful. My husband and children would love these.

  6. Great story! I love finding out about your restaurant days to now how life is for you. Beautiful! Thanks foe sharing.

  7. semplicemente delizioso!!! che goduria... bravissima...