Baked blackberry soufflés: a dinner party dessert that rises above the rest

Few desserts look more impressive than a perfectly risen soufflé

Making the most delicious souffles is easy once you follow these instructions... just watch. Video: Vanessa's Cooks Academy

 

Few desserts look more impressive than a perfectly risen soufflé. Towering above its dish, wobbling slightly and as light as air, a soufflé has real dinner party presence.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth
November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth

With that presence comes a certain amount of pressure. Not knowing until the last minute whether the soufflés will rise or stubbornly refuse to do so can be a nervy business. That uncertainty may strike fear into the heart of the cook, who might decide to leave soufflés to restaurant chefs and make apple crumble instead.

In defence of the soufflé, they look so impressive that I think they’re worth that little extra effort. My blackberry soufflé recipe is simple and reasonably foolproof. The quantities and instructions are important, and the egg whites do need to be folded in with a light hand. Beyond that, this is a pretty well-behaved recipe. If they do still happen to rise in a lop-sided fashion, don’t worry, they’ll still taste great.

The basic soufflé mixture can be endlessly varied. Different berries or fruits will sit happily in the base of the ramekins. Alternatively, a thick fruit purée stirred through the mixture before the egg whites are folded in gives the soufflés a more intense flavour. Mango or a thick passionfruit purée both work well, but avoid anything too watery as it may stop the soufflés from rising properly.

As with all soufflés, these blackberry versions need to be served immediately after they are cooked, so have any extra berries, coulis and perhaps a small scoop of ice-cream ready to go. Soufflés wait for no one.

BAKED BLACKBERRY SOUFFLÉS

Serves 4

Ingredients

20g plain flour

200ml milk

10g butter, softened (plus more for greasing ramekins)

100g caster sugar (plus extra for dusting ramekins)

½ vanilla pod, seeds of

2 medium egg yolks

2 egg whites

125g fresh blackberries (or strawberries, cherries)

2 tsp icing sugar

Fresh fruit coulis, to serve

Method

1 Prepare four large ramekins by first brushing with melted butter, using upward brushstrokes, then lightly dust with caster sugar to fully coat the butter and then place them in the fridge to chill.

2 Place the flour in a medium saucepan. Stir in three tablespoons of milk to a light cream consistency. Place over a low heat and start to whisk in the rest of the milk. Next whisk in the butter. 

3 Add the sugar and seeds from the vanilla pod.   

4 Next, increase the temperature to a medium-high heat. Stir constantly while bringing the mixture to a boil (use a wooden spoon to scrape around the inside edges of the saucepan as you stir so the mixture doesn’t catch on the base of the pan).

5 Keep stirring for an additional minute to reach a smooth, thickened cream consistency.

6 Remove from the heat and whisk for another minute to cool it slightly. 

7 Whisk in the egg yolks, one by one. Set aside to cool to room temperature before adding the egg whites.

8 In a spotlessly clean, grease-free mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk till soft peaks form. Gently fold a third of the whites into the custard, then fold in the remainder until just incorporated (be careful not to overmix or you will knock the air out of the mixture).

9 Place two blackberries inside each ramekin (or other berries).

10 Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins, filling them to just below the rim. Use a palette knife to scrape across the surface, leaving a flat top, and run the tip of a knife around the inside rim of each ramekin (to help them rise).

11 Place the filled ramekins on to a baking sheet and bake without opening the oven door, in an oven preheated to 190 degrees, fan, or equivalent, for 12-15 minutes, until the soufflés are risen but still slightly wobbly (smaller ramekins will take 10 minutes, larger ramekins may need extra time).

12 Bring straight to the table, dusted with icing sugar. Serve with extra berries and drizzle with coulis.   

Variation 
For a quick coulis, blitz together a handful blackberries, a tablespoon of sugar, and a dash of lemon juice. Sieve and serve.

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