Serves 6 to 8
Originally I prepared this recipe with rose water, but I found I wanted a stronger flavor. Rose syrup works well, but cooking down fresh organic rose petals takes longer than this syrup made from the leaves of a rose-scented geranium (Pelargonium spp.). By all means, try rose-petal syrup if you have some on hand.
To make rose geranium syrup:
• 1 cup water
• 1 cup sugar
• 10 to 12 rose geranium leaves
1. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan, bruising the leaves against the side of the pan with a spoon. Place over moderate heat and bring to a boil.
2. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand for at least 30 minutes. Remove the leaves and squeeze them into the syrup to extract their flavor.
3. This syrup can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. You can make other herb- flavored syrups in the same manner. Orange mint, peppermint, or spearmint would be good in this recipe; use about five 4- or 5-inch sprigs in place of the rose geranium leaves.
To make soufflé:
• 1/2 cup half-and-half
• 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
• 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 2 pinches salt
• 5 extra-large eggs, separated
• 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon rose geranium or rose syrup
• 1/2 cup whipping cream
• Organic rose geranium flowers, rose petals, or candied rose petals
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Generously butter six 1-cup ramekins or custard cups and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
2. Combine the half-and-half, chocolate, sugar, and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place over medium–low heat. Whisk the chocolate as it melts to make a smooth mixture. Remove from heat when the chocolate is completely melted.
3. Beat the 5 yolks, one at a time, into the chocolate mixture. Whisk the 1/4 cup rose geranium syrup, 1 tablespoon at a time, into the chocolate. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry.
4. Whisk about a cup of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Then pour the chocolate mixture into the whites and fold until just blended. Pour the mixture into the prepared dishes and bake in the lower half of the oven for about 12 minutes, until they are set.
5. While the soufflés are cooking, whip the whipping cream with 1 tablespoon of sugar until almost stiff. Whisk in about 1 tablespoon rose geranium syrup and taste; add a little more if desired.
6. Remove the soufflés from the oven. Scatter a few fresh rose petals or rose geranium flowers over the top if you have them or garnish each soufflé with a candied rose petal. Serve the soufflés immediately and pass the whipped cream. (You have 5 to 7 minutes to serve the soufflés before they start to deflate.)
7. If you have leftover soufflés, you can refrigerate them and eat them the next day. Their texture will be more dense, but they are still tasty served at cool room temperature.
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A Match Made in Chocolate.