A quick search on my blog reveals what I strongly suspected: Chocolate is not a hobby for me, it’s an obsession. I know I am not alone, and I don’t really feel the need to apologize — well, except for the fact that I may be neglecting you non-chocolate lovers out there when it comes to the dessert posts on Ari Cooks. These days, people tend to throw the term “obsessed” around quite freely, and I think it’s good to step back every now and then and really look at what a thing actually means. Here’s one definition from princeton.edu:
Obsessed– haunted (I love that!): having or showing excessive or compulsive concern with something
I have a few obsessions, not all of which are appropriate to share in this venue, but I would just like to say that I am at peace with them, and that they sustain me. This was not always the case, but with age comes maturity and healthier fixations (one hopes).
Have some souffle.
Chocolate Souffle, from The Gourmet Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl, 2004
I made this a couple weeks ago when we had our friends Tricia and Joe over for dinner. It was the easiest souffle I have ever attempted — although, like all souffles, it cannot really be made ahead of time. I whipped it up after dinner, while Tricia and I chatted in the kitchen, and the boys played music for a twirling Auralee. An idyllic evening.
1/3 cup sugar, plus additional for coating the souffle dish
5 ounces good bittersweet chocolate (I use Sirius brand, %56… it’s awesome), chopped
3 large eggs, separated, then left at room temperature for 30 minutes (it’s easeist to separate them when they are cold)
3 large egg whites (giving you 6 whites all together), left at room temp for 30 minutes (eggs whip up better when they are not very cold)
pinch of salt
special equipment: a 5 1/2-6 quart souffle dish (a medium le cruset, or any smooth ceramic vessel should work as well)
Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 375º F. Generously grease (butter or spray) souffle dish and coat with sugar, knocking out excess.
Melt chocolate like this: place chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl that is wide enough to rest on top of a pot, without touching the bottom. Boil a few inches of water in the pot then turn off the heat and place the bowl over the boiled water (water should NOT touch the bottom of the bowl). When the chocolate is halfway melted, give it a stir and let it melt the rest of the way. If your water is hot enough, there is no reason why should ever need to set your chocolate over the burner. This method prevents you from burning your chocolate.
Place bowl of melted chocolate on the counter and stir in yolks quickly and in a steady stream, to prevent them from scrambling. Your chocolate mixture should stiffen.
Beat 6 whites with salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Add 1/3 cup sugar a little at a time, then beat on high speed until meringue just hold stiff peaks (do not over beat). Stir about 1 cup meringue into chocolate mixture to lighten it (this helps it absorb the rest of the meringue), then gently but thoroughly fold in remaining meringue.
Spoon into souffle dish and run the tip of your thumb around the inside edge of the dish (this will help the souffle rise evenly). Bake until puffed and crusted in top, but still trembling in center, 24-26 minutes (do not open the oven during those first 22-24 minutes or so). Serve immediately, with whipped cream if so desired.
Note: the souffle can be assembled up to 30 minutes before baking. Keep covered with an inverted bowl (do not let the bowl touch the souffle), at room temp. (I did not find this all that helpful, since we like to linger over dinner, so preparing it before we sat down to eat was not an option– it is helpful though to chop your chocolate and separate your eggs ahead of time).