recipe

Credit: Photography: Earl Carter

Twice-cooked chocolate soufflé

The great fear with a soufflé is that it will collapse before you have the chance to serve it, so after an eight-week election campaign it seems a fitting dish to cook.

One of the secrets in preventing this collapse is to twice bake the soufflé, as is done in this recipe. It is cooked once the day before serving, and allowed to cool, and then cooked again the following day. Cooked a second time, it miraculously rises again: not to the same extent as the first time, but enough to make a light pudding-like texture. The reference to returned governments is yours to make.

This method of twice cooking works just as well in a savoury soufflé. There is a great recipe, which I have borrowed from Stephanie Alexander, for twice-cooked goat’s cheese soufflé. It did the rounds in the 1990s, but I still love to cook it. The technique is the same as this chocolate soufflé, and it is a great winter recipe that can be prepared in advance.

This recipe for chocolate soufflé was introduced to me by Damien Pignolet. What’s nice about it is that the chocolate component is chopped coarsely, so that as you eat the soufflé you hit large pieces of molten chocolate. It works in individual soufflés or as one big soufflé. The choice is yours to make really: individual soufflés have a more dinner party feel, but there’s a generous family sense to serving one big soufflé in the middle of the table. The only thing that really changes is the cooking time.

My favourite thing to do with a hot dessert is to serve it with something cold. I like to take some vanilla ice-cream and turn it into a prune ripple ice-cream. I take half a cup of de-seeded prunes and stew them with the juice of one orange and a slug of brandy until the prunes have broken down. I let this cool, then take an ice-cream scoop, load it with a little of the prune mixture, and use it to scoop out a serve of vanilla ice-cream. Alternatively, you can soften the ice-cream and then fold through the prunes without overworking.

 

Twice-cooked chocolate soufflé

Serves 6

Soufflés

– 100g soft unsalted butter, to grease the soufflé dishes

– castor sugar, to coat the greased dishes

– 120g castor sugar

– 40g Valrhona cocoa or fine-quality substitute

– 240ml milk

– 30g cornflour or custard powder

– 60ml cognac

– 4 egg yolks, well beaten

– 6 egg whites

– 2 tbsp castor sugar

– 200g Valrhona bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pieces the   
   size of a hazelnut

– pure icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease six chilled and dry soufflé dishes, each of 180-millilitre capacity, with the butter, then dust with castor sugar. A larger single pudding bowl could also be used to make one large soufflé.

In a medium-sized saucepan, dissolve the 120 grams of sugar and the cocoa in the milk over low heat. Mix the cornflour with enough water to make a smooth paste, then beat this into the cocoa mixture off the heat. Return the pan to the heat and slowly bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Cook over very low heat for two minutes, then add the cognac. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool for five minutes before beating in the egg yolks.

Beat the egg whites until they form firm peaks then scatter the two tablespoons of castor sugar over them and keep beating until stiff peaks are formed. Beat a quarter of the egg-white mixture into the cocoa base. Scatter the chocolate over the remaining egg-white mixture then pour the cocoa base on top and fold in quickly but thoroughly

Fill the prepared soufflé dishes almost to the top, wipe the rims clean and bake in a water bath (a baking dish or roasting tin filled with enough water to come two-thirds of the way up the sides of the soufflé dishes) for about 15 minutes, or until well risen. Watch the soufflés carefully – it is important not to overcook this type of soufflé, as it will be subjected to a second cooking. Allow the soufflés to cool in the water bath. They will deflate, but don’t be concerned. Once cool, cover with cling film and refrigerate until required.

Cream sauce

–1 tbsp cognac or brandy

– 600ml cream (35 per cent fat)

– ½ tsp vanilla extract

For the cream sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat, then bring to a simmer and reduce by about a quarter.

About 30 minutes before you want to serve the soufflés, take them out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 180ºC. Have some icing sugar in a small sieve, ready to dust the soufflés after their second cooking.

Dip the soufflé dishes into very hot water for 30 seconds, then run a paring knife around the inside of each dish and turn out the soufflés onto individual gratin or ovenproof dishes. Generously surround with the cream sauce, lightly coating the tops, and bake until well risen, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Serve immediately, lightly dusted with icing sugar, and with a scoop of prune ice-cream alongside. As the spoon cuts into the soufflé, beads of liquid chocolate should ooze out – quite delicious.

Wine pairing:

Morris Old Premium rare liqueur muscat, Rutherglen, Victoria ($65)

– Leanne Altmann, wine buyer for Supernormal and Meatsmith

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 2, 2016 as "The souff shall rise again". Subscribe here.

Andrew McConnell
is the executive chef and co-owner of Cutler & Co and Cumulus Inc.