There's no dish that's more intimidating, more fear-inducing, more downright terrifying than the soufflé. Even the most experienced of chefs have been known to break out in a sweat when faced with the soufflé. Not even Audrey Hepburn could get it right. The soufflé is a dish that calls for only a handful of ingredients, making it appear to be simple. But it requires just the right amount of whipping and folding of egg whites to work. And it's with the egg whites that people usually go wrong.
For one reason or another, egg whites scare people. Maybe they've been told one too many times to be careful when handling them. The repetitive warning can begin to mean "you can epically mess this up." But this is just not the case. And it's time that people's irrational fear of egg whites come to an end. If you can make whipped cream from scratch -- which we seriously hope you all can -- then you can whip up beautiful egg whites without skipping a beat. Promise. And if you believe that, which you should, than you can make soufflé as well as any French chef.
There are few simple things to keep in mind before you get started, and then you'll be ready for souffle mastery.
1.) Make sure you start with the cleanest of egg whites. By this we mean don't let any yolk in. Just the tiniest bit can hinder your whites from properly rising. If you've got yolk in your whites, throw them out and start over.
2. Coat your baking dish with grease and a coarse ingredient. Sugar works well for sweet soufflés and breadcrumbs are perfect for savory ones. The coarse ingredient gives the soufflé traction and help it rise higher.
3.) Whip the egg whites just right. By this we mean, just pay attention -- don't panic. Once the egg whites are stiff, they're ready. You can tell they're just right by testing to see if they'll stand at about a 45 degree angle.
4.) Be conscious while you fold. Folding egg whites into a custard is not like mixing up pancake batter. You want to be a little more gentle. The best way to do this is to push the egg whites gently down and pull the heavier custard up in a sort of S shape. And try not to overmix. It's better if there are a few streaks of egg whites left than to mix all the air out of your egg whites.
You are now ready for soufflé making -- without any of the stress. Check out some of our favorite recipes below.
This story appears in Issue 59 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available Friday, July 26.
Test out your new-found souffle skills on these dessert recipes.