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Weekend Warrior | A culinary challenge

Frozen souffles more accomplished than ice cream

Frozen Blackberry Souffle is not for the kitchen newbie.

Los Angeles Times

Frozen Blackberry Souffle is not for the kitchen newbie.

Think about homemade ice cream, creamy and cold and full of fresh fruit flavor. Think about ice cream so light it seems to float off the spoon. Think of ice cream that comes to the table a good 5 inches deep, so tall it towers above the dish.

You're not thinking about ice cream at all: You're thinking about frozen souffle.

Now, you're never going to catch me saying anything bad about ice cream, particularly the homemade kind. But ice cream has a certain aesthetic. It's homespun, like summer evenings on the porch.

A frozen souffle offers a decidedly different approach, sheer as chiffon and drop-dead elegant.

There are two slightly different styles of frozen souffle; which you choose will depend on what kind of dessert you're looking for. Both are only a little more complicated than homemade ice cream — but they require a bit of attention to process.

One frozen souffle is light and airy and offers direct, clean flavors. It's based on what's called an Italian meringue, essentially beaten egg whites that have been cooked by slowly pouring in a very hot sugar syrup while the mixer is running.

The other is creamier, with a rich eggy flavor underpinning whatever else you decide to add. You base this one on a kind of custard — egg yolks cooked gently with sugar until they're thick.

Neither of these processes is for the kitchen newbie. Eggs are notoriously temperamental, and if you're not comfortable beating egg whites to a stiff peak, you're probably not quite ready to whisk in a "soft-ball" sugar syrup to finish the meringue.

But if neither of those tasks scares you, you'll find that these recipes come together easily and the results certainly outweigh the slightly higher degree of difficulty. The key is organization — and having a good supply of mixing bowls.

Before you begin, have the fruit cooked, strained and cooled. Have the egg whites at room temperature and the whipping cream chilled to ensure you get the most volume out of each. Attach the collar to the souffle dish. Now you're ready.

The custard base begins much like a zabaglione, with egg yolks and sugar cooked gently over simmering water. A couple of tricks to remember: The egg yolks and sugar mixture is done when it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and when folding the ingredients together, you'll get better results if you lighten the base with a bit of each before adding the rest.

When making the Italian meringue souffle, you'll need to pay a little more attention to temperature. Sugar cooked to these concentrations is prone to crystallization, and once this starts, things go bad quickly. Adding a little corn syrup can help, and be sure to brush the sides of the pan down with a little water if you see crystals forming. Also, when you add this syrup to the egg whites, slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl (if it hits the beater, you'll get gummy sugar strings).

In developing these recipes, I chose blackberries for the Italian meringue souffle, focusing on the sharp, bright side of their flavor. But you could just as easily pair them with the custard souffle, contrasting that berry flavor with the richness of the egg yolks.

The same is true of the peach souffle. The custard base results in a delicate peaches-and-cream start followed by a haunting aroma of fruit. Made with the Italian meringue base, the flavor would have been much simpler and "peachier."

Of course, you can substitute whichever ripe seasonal fruit you prefer in either souffle. Just remember that you'll need about 2 cups of it after cooking and straining. Whoever heard of something so elegant being so accommodating?

>>difficult

Frozen Peach Souffle With Raspberry Sauce

For the raspberry sauce:

3/4 pound fresh or frozen raspberries

1/3 cup sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

For the peach souffle:

2 1/2 cups unpeeled, pitted and chopped peaches (about 3 peaches, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds)

1 cup sugar, divided use

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup peach liqueur

1 (1/4-ounce) packet gelatin

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

6 eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

Sliced toasted almonds

To make the raspberry sauce, puree the raspberries in a food mill, discarding the seeds. The raspberries can also be pureed in a food processor, then strained to remove the seeds. This makes about 1 cup puree.

Place the berries in a medium bowl and whisk in the sugar until dissolved. Stir in the lemon juice and chill until ready to use. This makes a scant 1 1/2 cups syrup and will keep for 3 days, covered and refrigerated.

To make the souffle and assemble dessert, cut a sheet of waxed paper long enough to fit around a 1-quart souffle dish and fold it lengthwise in thirds to make a ribbon about 4 inches wide. Wrap this around the top of the dish to make a collar and tape the ends together. The collar should extend about 3 inches above the rim of the souffle dish. Secure with a rubber band or tape and place the dish in the freezer to chill. Alternatively, prepare 8 (1/2-cup) ramekins in a similar fashion, making sure collars extend about 1 1/2 inches over ramekins.

In a large saucepan, heat the peaches with 1/3 cup sugar and lemon juice over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the peaches have softened and broken down into a consistency resembling a loose applesauce, about 15 minutes.

Puree the cooked peaches in a food mill or blender. You should have about 2 cups.

Warm the peach liqueur in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the gelatin and cook, stirring, until the gelatin melts. Immediately stir the gelatin mixture and the almond extract into the peach puree and chill until cold.

Bring a pot of water to a simmer. Beat together the egg yolks and remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a mixing bowl and place the bowl over the simmering water, being careful not to let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Immediately start whisking the egg yolks and continue until they are quite pale and have approximately doubled in volume, 5 to 7 minutes. When you rub a little of the egg yolk mixture between your fingers, you shouldn't feel any grit from the sugar.

Remove the bowl from the heat, whisk in the peach mixture and continue whisking until the mixture has cooled.

Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks in an electric mixer using the whisk attachment. In a separate large bowl, beat the whipping cream to soft peaks with a whisk or hand mixer. Spoon about one-half of the egg whites into the cooled egg yolk mixture and stir to lighten the mixture. Add the remaining egg whites to the whipped cream and pour the peach mixture on top. Gently fold them all together to make a uniform mixture.

Gently spoon the mixture into the souffle dish or the ramekins. It should come at least halfway up the paper collar. Smooth the top and scatter the sliced toasted almonds over top. Freeze until very firm, at least 4 hours. If you freeze it overnight, transfer it to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to soften before serving. If you make it more than 1 day in advance, once the mixture is frozen solid, cover it with plastic wrap and gently press the wrap against the surface of the souffle.

When ready to serve, carefully remove the collar. Serve in ramekins or thin slices from the souffle dish with a little raspberry sauce spooned over and the rest passed on the side.

Serves 8 to 10.

Source: Los Angeles Times

>>difficult

Frozen Blackberry Souffle

1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen blackberries

1 cup sugar, divided use

1/3 cup blackberry or raspberry liqueur

1/4 cup water

4 egg whites

2 cups whipping cream

Cut a sheet of waxed paper that is long enough to fit around a 1-quart souffle dish and fold it in lengthwise thirds to make a ribbon about 4 inches wide. Wrap this around the top of the dish to make a collar and tape the ends together. The collar should extend about 3 inches above the rim of the souffle dish. Secure with a rubber band or tape and place the dish in the freezer to chill. Alternatively, prepare 8 (1/2-cup) ramekins in a similar fashion, making sure the collars extend about 1 1/2 inches over the rim of the ramekins.

In a large saucepan, cook the blackberries and 1/3 cup sugar over medium heat until the berries soften and collapse, about 10 minutes. Puree the blackberries in a food mill, blender or food processor (strain the seeds if using a blender or processor); you should have about 2 cups. Stir in the blackberry liqueur and chill.

Heat remaining 2/3 cup sugar and the water in a small saucepan over medium heat to a temperature of 235 to 240 degrees, soft-ball stage, about 15 minutes. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves, then stop stirring but keep handy a brush moistened with water to wash down the sides of the pan should any sugar crystals form. (If the sugar crystallizes while cooking, try the step again in a clean saucepan and add 1/4 teaspoon corn syrup before cooking the sugar).

While the sugar mixture is cooking, beat the egg whites in an electric mixer to stiff peaks using the whisk attachment. With the mixer running, pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites down the side of the bowl in a slow, steady stream (avoid hitting the whisk with the sugar or it will spray over the bowl). When the hot sugar syrup first hits the whites, they will swell tremendously. Continue beating until the whites have cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat the whipping cream to soft peaks with a whisk or hand mixer.

Stir about 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the blackberry puree to lighten it. Then pour the blackberry mixture over the remaining egg whites and fold gently until well combined. These cooked egg whites are more stable than uncooked, but you still need to be careful not to deflate them.

Gently fold the whipping cream into the egg white mixture and spoon the mixture into the prepared souffle dish or ramekins. It should come at least halfway up the paper collar. Smooth the top and freeze until very firm, at least 4 hours. If you freeze it overnight, transfer it to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to soften before serving. If you make it more than 1 day in advance, once the mixture is frozen solid, cover it with plastic wrap and gently press the wrap against the surface of the souffle.

When ready to serve, carefully remove the collar and serve the ramekins or cut the large souffle into thin slices.

Serves 8 to 10.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Frozen souffles more accomplished than ice cream 07/21/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 5:30am]
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