Like the little black cocktail dress or your one impeccable suit, the chocolate soufflé is an essential thing to have in your repertoire. Make it for that formal dinner party where you really need to impress, to charm the heck out of your beloved on Valentine’s Day, or as the unexpectedly indulgent end to a laidback supper. It has a limited number of ingredients, so each of them needs to be perfect (especially the chocolate—buy the best 72 percent bittersweet you can find). The techniques—primarily beating egg whites and folding them into a base—are simple, too, but they do take a little practice to get right. Don’t be deflated when your first soufflé doesn’t rise as high as you’d dreamed. The next one will always be better.
We featured this recipe in our Classic Valentine’s Day Dishes recipe gallery.
- Melted unsalted butter for the soufflé dishes
- 6 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for the soufflé dishes
- 4 large egg yolks
- 6 large egg whites
- Powdered sugar for garnishing
1Preheat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Using a pastry brush, paint melted butter around the bottom and sides of 5 13-ounce ramekins. Coat the insides with granulated sugar, making sure you tap out any excess. (Alternately, use a 1- to 2-quart soufflé dish, buttering and sugaring the bottom and sides.)
2Set a stainless steel or glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water over low heat (the bottom of the bowl shouldn’t touch the surface of the water). Add the chocolate, milk, and ½ cup of sugar to the bowl. Turn off the heat and let the chocolate gradually melt, stirring occasionally with a heat-proof spatula. When the chocolate is melted and the sugar dissolved, remove the bowl from the saucepan and set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Add the egg yolks, stirring with the spatula.
3Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. As you whisk, add 3 tablespoons of sugar and continue until shiny, stiff, but not dry peaks form.
4With the spatula, stir ¼ of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up, then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites.
5Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins (or single soufflé dish). Bake the ramekins until the soufflés have risen, 20 to 25 minutes. (Bake the large single soufflé for 30 to 35 minutes.) Make sure to keep the oven door closed for the entire cooking time—a loss of heat could make the soufflés fail to rise. To determine if the soufflés are done, gently touch the tops with a finger: They should feel light and fluffy but sturdy. If they wiggle, they’re still slightly undercooked in the center. Continue baking for the maximum time.
6Remove the finished soufflés from the oven, dust with powdered sugar, and rush them to the table.
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