Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Grand Marnier Soufflé

A customer asked if I would make a Grand Marnier soufflé for his 30th anniversary, to which I replied, "No problem!" Soufflés, while they look like kitchen wizardry, are really simple to make. And I kind of like making them. There is something really neat about putting a mousse of egg whites in the oven and pulling out a perfectly risen soufflé. I'm sorry that this is such a crappy photograph, because this soufflé was nearly perfect, rising almost three inches above a 2-inch soufflé dish. We served this with a Chocolate Grand Marnier Crème Anglaise.

I don't eat desserts (sweets don't appeal to me), so I rarely make desserts. I've always been of the opinion that you should cook things that you like and are passionate about, otherwise the passion won't shine through. And so, I leave most of the pastry work to the other cooks in the kitchen. I could be a fine pastry chef—I can create desserts equally as easily as any other kind of dish—but I don't want to be. But I have to admit that I really do like to make soufflés.

Most soufflés, including this Grand Marnier soufflé, are made with a béchamel base. Béchamel is not necessary if your flavorings have sufficient viscosity (such as chocolate or certain vegetable purées). I make my dessert soufflé béchamels with heavy cream. You may use milk if you prefer.

Grand Marnier Soufflé

For each 4-ounce soufflé dish, you will need:

2 fluid ounces of very thick, lightly sweetened béchamel
zest of half an orange
1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier
2 egg yolks

2 egg whites
1 tablespoon of sugar

parchment (silicone) paper
masking tape or string

To the room temperature béchamel, add the orange zest, Grand Marnier, and egg yolks. Mix very well. Whisk the room temperature egg whites to nearly soft peak stage, add the sugar, and bring to the soft peak stage. Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the béchamel base and mix to lighten the base. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites and note that the mixture does not have to be perfectly mixed. Place the mixture in a prepared soufflé mold and place in a 375F oven until risen and set, about 20 minutes.

To prepare a soufflé mold for a sweet soufflé, rub the mold with soft butter and coat with sugar, dumping out the excess sugar. Fold a piece of parchment paper and wrap around the mold, securing with masking tape or string, as you see in the photo.

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