Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cheese Souffle

I'd always been curious about souffles and why they were challenging to make.  So I decided to try out this recipe for a cheese souffle.  As I was making it, I had an "A-ha!" moment.  I totally got how they work.  I might say it's having common sense.  *However*, if you're cooking-challenged (or just don't have enough experience yet), there are some things you might not realize.  And that's OK.  I'll let you in on the secrets I learned. 

Before I go further, I have to say that I tried this souffle with very high hopes.  Unfortunately I wasn't "wow'd" by the results.  For starters, the flavor was bland - even despite using a sharp cheddar.  It did have some kick with the added cayenne, but overall I felt "meh" about it.  On top of that, the consistency, while light, almost reminded me of scrambled eggs.  Which I don't like.  Ick.

What I ended up doing rather unintentionally, was making another souffle - this time with zucchini.  Initially I thought I'd try a different one and the zucchini caught my eye but as I was going through the recipe I was confused by mixing in the eggs and adding baking powder.  I mean... isn't that opposite of what a true souffle is?  That sounds to me more like a quiche.  Or a frittata.

Anyhow, I made the second souffle by adding shredded zucchini and it was SO MUCH better than the plain cheese souffle.  It added just enough flavor and a really nice contrast with the texture.  The zucchini made this recipe a keeper. 



  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine 

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard

  • dash cayenne pepper

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar or Swiss cheese 

  • 4 eggs, separated


    In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in the flour, mustard and cayenne until smooth; gradually add the milk. bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; stir in cheese until melted. Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Cool slightly.

    In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into egg yolk mixture. Pour into four greased 10-oz. souffle dishes or custard cups. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve immediately.


    *For the Cheese & Zucchini Souffle, just add a pound of shredded zucchini (about one medium zucchini).


    As I mentioned above, the cheese souffle was boring.  Meh.  But once I added zucchini to the mix it was MUCH better.  I'd make this one again, for sure.

    The secret to successful souffles is timing, when it all boils down to it.  I set everything up in advance - all ingredients measured out and ready to go.  It makes things much easier.

    When mixing the ingredients on the stove, keep stirring!  Don't stop.  Take the pot off the heat, add the cheese and zucchini and allow it to cool down just a little bit. 

    At the same time, start whipping the egg white.  As the mixer is going, start spooning bit by bit the souffle mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks.  Transfer back to the pot.  Gradually fold in the egg whites.  This is where it can get dicey.  Mix it ONLY UNTIL BLENDED. You don't want to mix the egg whites too much or they'll lose their "air".  The end result to that is, after putting the souffle into the oven; baked bricks.

    So to ensure fluffy souffles that rise, do NOT over-mix the egg whites into the pot.  Moving quickly, scoop the mixture into ramekins (oiled or sprayed) and place into the oven.  Watch the clock to make sure you don't over cook them either. 

    It might sound like a bit of work, but once you get these basics down, the rest will really be easy.

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