Goat Cheese Soufflé

This light and savory soufflé is bound to impress! Perfect as a first course for a romantic Valentine’s dinner, serve this soufflé on top of a lightly dressed salad. The goat cheese really shines through in this dish, so if you and your beau are not goat cheese lovers, cut it back or use your favorite soft cheese instead.

Soufflés have a reputation for being difficult to make, but that reputation is undeserved. In fact, they only require a few simple ingredients and can be made in advance. When you’re ready to eat, just pop them in the oven for 10 or 15 minutes, and watch them puff up like new! These beautiful, light, puffy wonderlands of flavor are made from a base of egg foam, which has been folded with a simple seasoned white sauce. The egg foam in the soufflé is what makes it so magical. As its water turns into steam, each air bubble expands. That’s why the soufflé will rise up out of its dish! The heat also causes the proteins in the egg and the flour to solidify, forming strong, permanent bubble walls. Although it’s true that a soufflé will deflate when cooled, the bubble walls that formed during cooking will remain intact. Deflation happens because the steam that held the bubbles open begins to dissipate or re-condensate as it cools. However, as soon as you turn that water to steam again, the soufflé will re-inflate it to its original glory!

There’s truly nothing better than a homemade meal on Valentine’s Day, so I’ve created this recipe for two! ♥

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp butter, plus more for coating ramekins
3 Tbsp AP flour, divided
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup whole milk
5oz soft goat cheese, crumbled, divided
Salt & pepper to taste
1 egg yolk
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F and liberally coat two 1-cup ramekins* (or three 2/3-cup ramekins) with butter. Combine 1 Tbsp AP flour with 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese and coat the inside of the buttered ramekins with the mixture, knocking off any excess.

Ramekin coating

2. In a small saucepan, whisk together 2 Tbsp butter with 2 Tbsp AP flour over medium-low heat. Cook until bubbly, but not brown, about 2 minutes. This is your roux (thickening base for the rest of the sauce). Now slowly add your whole milk, while whisking. Increase heat to medium and simmer until very thick, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. It should look almost like pudding (but less gelatinous).

From Roux to Thickened White Sauce

3. Remove pan from heat and add half of the goat cheese; whisk until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that you’re about to dilute this sauce with a bunch of tasteless egg white foam. You’ll actually want to aim to slightly overflavor it (but don’t go bananas, you can always add more salt and pepper at the table if you need to).

Goat Cheese Sauce

4. In a medium bowl, gradually add your hot sauce (one spoonful at a time) to your egg yolk, whisking constantly. This gradual introduction of the hot sauce to your cool egg yolk will help the it come up to temperature gently–without turning into scrambled eggs. This technique is known as tempering your egg (different from chocolate tempering). Once the yolk is warmed through, you can add the rest of the cheese sauce all at once and stir. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Tempering egg yolk

5. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar on medium-low speed until soft peaks form. Gently whisk a quarter of your egg foam into the cheese sauce to lighten its texture a bit. Then fold the remaining egg foam, along with your rosemary and the other half of your crumbled goat cheese. Remember to fold gently and slowly, with a rubber spatula so that not too many of the bubbles are disturbed. It’s normal to lose some of your egg volume due to exposure to the fat in the cheese sauce. However, by being gentle, you can retain the maximum amount of fluffiness! Fold just until everything is evenly dispersed, some streaks are okay.

Folding in Egg Whites

6. First bake (if you’re making them ahead): Divide your mixture between prepared ramekins. Fill all the way to the top to ensure you get that handsome puff above the rim**! Bake on top of a cookie sheet (to protect your oven in case of spill-over) at 350F for 30-40 minutes, or until set in the center and brown on the edges. No need to fear opening the oven door to check for doneness. A quick check will not cause the soufflés to deflate, and even if it did, as soon as you close the door, the soufflés will heat back up and return to their puffy state***. Once they’re done, allow them to cool on a wire rack until they are a safe handling temperature. They will deflate, but that’s okay. Then, with a sharp knife, cut along the outside of the soufflés to release them from their dishes. Place them onto a buttered cookie sheet. Refrigerate until you’re ready to reheat. If it’s going to be a while, seal them into a container so they won’t dry out.

Souffle before + after first bake

7. Second bake (to re-puff just before serving): Preheat the oven to 350F. Fifteen minutes before you’re ready to serve, pop your soufflés back into the oven on their buttered cookie sheet. They will puff back up and finish browning as they heat through; it should only take about 10-15 minutes. Once they look fully puffy, serve them immediately on top of a nice green salad.

Souffle before + after 2nd bake

This dish makes an exquisite first course or light entree. This recipe contains more goat cheese than the average, so its rich, tangy cheesiness is PERFECT with a crisp, fresh-tasting salad. Here is the salad I made with this soufflé:

Leafy Green Salad with Tomato, Cucumber and Shaved Fennel

Ingredients
2 handfuls leafy green lettuce (chopped or torn into bite-size pieces)
1 small tomato, seeds removed (and saved), sliced into wedges
1/4 of a cucumber, thinly sliced
1/4 of a fennel bulb, very thinly sliced

Directions:
Wash all ingredients and spin or pat dry. Toss together along with a a splash of Tomato Vinaigrette (see below) and serve beneath goat cheese soufflé.

Tomato Vinaigrette

Ingredients
Tomato seeds (saved from salad)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Splash of honey
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Combine tomato seeds, vinegar and honey in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in oil while whisking constantly. (If you own an immersion blender, use it! It works much better than a whisk for salad dressings!) Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss a small amount (to taste) with salad above. This dressing uses a tad less oil than traditional vinaigrette, so the leftovers may separate. Simply shake well before using again.

Tips

*Don’t own ramekins? If you don’t own ramekins, you could sub in anything oven-safe with flat walls, like a mug, small pyrex dish, or maybe a muffin pan. Or alternately, you could use a cake pan and make one large soufflé. Simply extend the cooking time so it has time to set in the center.

**Got extra batter? The volume of batter can change based on how much volume your egg foam retained when it was folded in with the rest of the ingredients. If you find that you have enough to make three soufflés, I recommend it. If you have an extra, you can choose the best looking two for the table. Plus, you get an extra treat as a leftover later!

***Questioning the second bake? I prefer twice-baked soufflés because it allows me to remove them from their ramekins. This eliminates the risk of someone burning themselves on the piping hot baking dish and makes them easier to eat with the salad. Plus they get a slight toasty crust on the outside during the second bake that is absolutely delightful! If you prefer to skip the second baking step, then you can take them straight out to the table in their ramekins while they’re still piping hot and puffy. Just give them a couple of extra minutes in the oven to allow the brown edges to fully develop, and warn your guest(s) that the dish is extremely hot! Don’t let the hot ramekin touch the salad, or it may cause the greens to wilt.

 ♥ This is just the first course! Hold on to your hats ladies and gentleman. The Valentine’s home-cooked feast continues!!

 

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