Thursday, August 17, 2006

Favorite food. soufflé.

I nearly always make a soufflé shortly after making bread pudding. The bread pudding uses eight egg yolks, and I just so happen to have a recipe for chocolate soufflé that requires eight egg whites. (What else am I going to do, make an egg-white omelet? How boring). I found the recipe on the internet, the only one that didn't require egg yolks or the effort of a custard base. It is just egg whites, sugar, chocolate, and lemon juice. The soufflé emerges from the oven, rising a good two inches above the fluted edge of my gratin dish, all chocolate and air, looking quite a bit like the toque worn by a chef, if only chefs wore toques the color of bittersweet chocolate.

Soufflés are one of my favorite foods. Few restaurants serve them, and when I see discreet words at the bottom of the menu suggesting that you pre-order your soufflé (or when the waiter mentions it as he takes your order), I have to order one. Usually there are two options: chocolate, or Grand Marnier. I always feel a bit deflated (pardon the pun) when the waiter pierces the crest of my soufflé with a spoon and pours in the sauce. It is a travesty, as if someone had already cracked the burnt sugar of my crême brulée before serving it. I am always tempted to snatch the spoon away as it is poised over the virgin expanse of crisp crust. That moment before you plunge into the shell of your soufflé is like that moment when you wake up on a winter morning to find piles of snow just waiting for your footsteps to mark its pristine white surface. That thrill of anticipation.

Usually chocolate desserts are rich and heavy; warm molten chocolate cakes that ooze their own insides to flood the senses with a sudden rush of chocolate, dense tortes that fall like stones into your stomach. It is a delicious form of torture. A chocolate soufflé is all darkness made as light as air, a balancing act between lightness and weight. The perfect one is equal parts of both, and when you eat it you feel as though you could never get enough. I am torn between the weightless, bittersweet darkness of a chocolate soufflé and the intoxicating brightness of a Grand Marnier one. The latter is fragrant with the heady scent of orange liqueur, and it is what I always order when I find it in restaurants. I save my chocolate soufflés for when I am home, with a bowl of egg whites in one hand and a bar of the darkest chocolate I can find in the other. It is my secret, for me alone. (Sometimes a friend, too).

Last time, having no lemons on hand, I scraped the zest from one lime into the melting chocolate before squeezing in the juice. As we cut into the hot soufflé the aroma of lime rose over the table and seemed to hang before us in a palpable cloud. There was not so much the taste of lime but rather the sensation of the scent of lime, and it was incredible. I must try it again.

1 comment:

Juanita J. Sanchez said...