Cheddar Cheese Souffles

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Serves 4
Source: Michael Ruhlman
Originally from October 2013 on my old blog

The word souffle makes me think of two things. As a diner, I feel impressed to eat such a fancy and delicious dish. But as a cook, I feel stressed: there seems to be this big hype around the difficulty of a souffle. And, to be honest, I’ve had my fair share of failed souffles. They don’t rise, they are undercooked, they are too soft… but this recipe seems to be a game changer.

Yes, there is a reasonably large amount of steps to undertake, but, to be frank, this recipe is pretty hard to mess up. My favorite part? You can freeze the uncooked souffles for up to 2 weeks before you cook them! You know what that means? It means make them in the morning, or the week before for Pete’s sake, freeze them, and when you’re in the middle of making your main dish, just pop ‘em out of the freezer and into the oven. How easy is that?

Now, what’s really important is if the work that goes into these babies pays off. And the answer to that is yes. They are cheesy, airy, and crispy at the top. The smell when you first pull them out of the oven is unforgettable.

I served these as a flashy side dish for my Chicken with Roasted Shallots and Mushrooms, but you could also serve it as an appetizer.

Ingredients:
~butter to grease ramekins, plus 2 tablespoons
~finely grated Parmesan, for dusting ramekins
~1 small shallot, minces (about 2 tablespoons)
~kosher salt
~2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
~1 cup milk
~cayenne pepper (optional)
~6 large eggs, separated
~1 teaspoon lemon juice
~4 ounces farmhouse cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 ½ cups)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter eight ½ cup ramekins (or four 1-cups) on all sides and bottom and dust with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Place on a baking sheet.

Make the béchamel: Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat in a small saucepan. Add the shallot and sweat, for about 1 minute. Add a pinch of salt. Add the flour and stir until incorporated and the flour cooks a bit. Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer. Keep whisking until it thickens. Add another pinch of salt and a pinch of cayenne. Remove from the heat and let sit for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the lemon juice and a three-finger pinch of salt. Beat to stiff, glossy peak stage.

Beat the yolks into the cooled béchamel. Stir in ¼ of the cheese, followed by ¼ of the beaten whites. Gently fold the béchamel into the remaining whites, sprinkling the remaining cheese over the mixture at the same time. When completely combined (but not over mixed), spoon mixture into the ramekins, filling about 2/3 full.

From here you can either bake the soufflés right away for 25 (slightly longer for 1-cup ramekins) minutes until airy but set, and nicely browned at the top. Alternatively, you can cover the tops of the ramekins with cling wrap and store them in the freezer for up to two weeks. To bake frozen soufflés, take the cling wrap off the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes at the same temperature.

Happy dining!!

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