Sunday, September 4, 2011

Delicious Uncertainty

I enjoy being certain.

I like knowing exactly what is going to happen in a given situation, it is a security thing. I think it is why I like baking so much. When you combine x amounts of flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt, oil, and eggs you will have cake. It will bake for about 35 minutes. That is a certainty.

Other things are not so fixed.

Take the souffle.

Souffle's are easy to make in theory. They are also easy to mess up. They are temperamental.

You start with sugared ramekins. The sugar gives your batter something to affix to as it bakes and puffs up.

Then it is as easy as:

There is the potential that: you will over-bake them, that the air will be too humid and the texture will be off, that the souffle will fall in the middle, that you will over-whip the eggs, or perhaps fold the eggs whites a little too roughly. All of these things will mess up your souffle.

While you are waiting for the souffles to souffle, it is easy to trick yourself into thinking they won't work out. Sometimes they don't. But sometimes they wind up looking like this...

Do not avoid the souffle because you are afraid to mess it up. You will probably hold your breath the entire time your souffle is in the oven. It is that whole uncertainty thing. But, in all likelihood, it will work out.

Chocolate Souffles
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1/3 c sugar (plus extra for dusting)
butter (for ramekins)
3 egg yolks
6 egg whites
pinch of salt

1.Preheat oven to 375°
2. Butter ramekins and dust with sugar, knocking out excess
3. Melt chocolate using a double broiler
4. Remove from heat and stir in yolks (mixture will stiffen).
5. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks
6. Add 1/3 cup sugar, a little at a time, continuing to beat at medium speed, then beat at high speed until whites just hold stiff peaks
7. Stir about 1 cup whites into chocolate mixture to lighten
8. Add chocolate mixture to remaining whites, folding gently but thoroughly.
9. Spoon into ramekins and bake for 20 minutes
10. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar before serving

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