Life’s been a whirlwind around these parts lately. The dining/living room floors are finally finished, after a lengthy staining mishap that required us to sand down the floors a second time (turns out iron+ vinegar stain on red oak turns blue not grey), and the fancy new plaster I ordered arrived yesterday, so the next few days will be spent on a ladder with a trowel listening to history podcasts. Next week my big order of compost for the new garden is going to be dumped on the driveway and I’ll be shoveling it all across the yard, (hoping that this makes for extra-large tomatoes this year!) And I’m getting all my upcoming workshops together, the one in Asheville happening next month, one here in Portland in April (registration opening next week!), one in Cape Cod in May, and one in Sweden in July. Whew! If you want to stay in the loop on when registration opens, you can sign up at the bottom of the First We Eat homepage.
With all this craziness happening, I decided to make myself a little treat. Something that I could savor, and that would bring me the moment of peace and pure unadulterated joy that I needed. So, I made a soufflé. If you’re unfamiliar with them, they’re basically baked rich fluffy sweets, halfway between a meringue and a custard. Egg yolks are whipped into a frenzy with a pinch of sugar until airy and satiny, chocolate and goat’s cheese are melted down into a slurry, egg whites are beaten with even more sugar until shiny and stiff, and the whole thing is folded together and placed in adorable tiny ramekins. As they bake, they will poof up, and as long as you grease the entire interior of the ramekin, they will keep shooting straight up and look like tiny towers. Once you remove them from the oven, they will start to collapse after about 5 minutes, so if you want to keep the towering presentation factor going you need to time it so that they’re served and eaten *right* when you pull them out of the oven. I sprinkled powdered sugar on mine as a garnish, but you could feel free to top them with cocoa powder, cacao nibs, or chocolate shavings to make them look extra lovely and to hide the collapsed dome if you weren’t able to serve them in time. You could also serve them alongside an assorted plate of goat cheeses and chocolates, I recommend checking out Susan Simonini’s ceramics for gorgeous and durable plates and serving platters as well as Annie Beedy’s stunning wooden spoons & knives like the ones featured here. Thanks ladies!
But even if the dome collapses, no one will give it a second thought once they give these little guys a taste, because goat cheese and chocolate combine here in the most fluid and decadent fashion. The flavor is so rich and focused, yet light at the same time because of the airy texture of the dish. The quality of the goat cheese is very important here, you need to use chèvre-style goat cheese (the moist fresh kind that comes sealed in a little white log) and it should not be pre-crumbled (i.e. whatever you do, do not use feta). I used Vermont Creamery‘s chèvre and it imparted the creamy and smooth texture that a soufflé like this needs.
Chocolate & Goat Cheese Souffle
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips 60% cacao
- 3.5 ounces chèvre goat cheese crumbled
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 7 eggs whites at room temperature
- pinch cream of tartar
- Grease 6 (8-ounce) ramekins and sprinkle the insides with a pinch of granulated sugar. Place them in the freezer.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler over low heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Add the chocolate and stir constantly until melted. Add the goat cheese and milk and continue stirring until a thick, smooth, and foamy mixture forms. Remove from heat and pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl. Stir in vanilla extract. Continue stirring for 3 minutes as the mixture cools. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks, water, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar at medium high speed until the color of the mixture lightens and ribbons form (when you lift the whisk from the yolk a steady thread of yolk drips down for several seconds), about 4-5 minutes. Empty 1/3 of the yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture and fold until combined. Repeat with the remaining two-thirds of the mixture, one third at a time.
- Remove the ramekins from the freezer and place them in a large casserole dish.
- Clean the whisk and bowl of the electric mixer very thoroughly. Empty the egg whites and cream of tartar into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium high speed until frothy. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. Continue whisking the mixture until the meringue holds stiff peaks and shines.
- Empty 1/4 of the meringue into the chocolate mixture and fold until combined. Repeat with the remaining three-fourths of the mixture, one fourth at a time.
- Fill the ramekins 3/4 full with the soufflé mixture. Fill the casserole pan with warm water so that it comes up to half the side of the ramekins. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the tops just become crisp, making sure not to peek at them in the oven. Remove and serve immediately.