Makes 8 servings
This recipe is inspired by Alice Medrich’s Intensely Bittersweet Soufflés from her book, Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate (Artisan, 2003). The addition of coffee to this soufflé gives the dessert a delicious bitter edge, but it can be omitted—just add another tablespoon of milk in its place. If you are not using the coffee, a teaspoon of ancho chile powder is an interesting addition. The soufflés can be prepared a day or two ahead and kept in the refrigerator, then baked just before dessert time. Remove soufflés from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to baking.
Cocoa Whipped Cream
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
• 2 to 3 tablespoons vanilla sugar or cane sugar plus 1 scant teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 6 ounces 60- to 70-percent-cocoa chocolate, chopped fine
• 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup milk
• 2 teaspoons instant espresso dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water or 1 tablespoon very strong coffee (may substitute decaffeinated coffee)
• 4 extra-large eggs, separated, at room temperature
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1/3 cup vanilla sugar or regular cane sugar
1. To make Cocoa Whipped Cream: In a bowl, combine cream and cocoa and whisk to blend. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days. Just before serving, whip cream, adding sugar halfway through whipping. Whip until soft peaks form. The cream should not be stiff. Set aside until soufflés are ready.
2. To make soufflés: Generously butter 8 ramekins or custard cups (6 ounces each) and sprinkle insides with sugar. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3. Combine chocolate, cocoa, butter, milk and espresso in the top of a double boiler and place over water at medium-high heat. Stir occasionally as chocolate melts, until mixture is shiny and smooth. Remove from heat and add egg yolks and vanilla; blend well.
4. Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in a bowl and beat on medium-high speed until whites begin to stiffen but are still soft. Add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and beat until whites are stiff. Do not overbeat.
5. Fold about 1 cup of beaten whites into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining whites until blended; do not overmix. Divide mixture evenly among ramekins. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet to bake immediately or cover and refrigerate to bake within the next 24 to 48 hours.
6. Bake for about 15 minutes. Soufflés will puff and some may crack on the top. Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer—it should come out moist and sticky, but soufflé should be set in the center. (Refrigerated soufflés may take 2 or 3 minutes longer to bake.)
7. Place individual soufflés on small serving plates and serve immediately (soufflés will begin to deflate as soon as they are removed from the oven), topping with Cocoa Whipped Cream as desired.