Make the crème anglaise
In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the cream, sugar, vanilla bean seeds and pod, and ginger over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until simmering, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for up to 30 minutes; the longer it sits, the more intense the ginger flavor will be.
Whisk the yolks in a small bowl until smooth. Return the cream mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk a quarter of the cream into the yolks to warm them. Using a wooden spoon, stir the yolk mixture into the cream. Continue stirring over medium heat until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon and an instant-read thermometer registers 170°F to 175°F, about 2 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. If you want to serve it cold, cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until chilled, about 2 hours.
Prepare the ramekins
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to
375°F. Generously butter eight 6-oz. ramekins (3-1/2 inches in diameter
and about 2 inches deep). Coat the insides with sugar, tapping out any
Make the pastry cream
Sprinkle the brown sugar in an even layer on the bottom of a 3-quart heavy-duty saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, undisturbed, until partially melted, about 3 minutes. Whisk until the sugar melts and begins to darken, 1 to 2 minutes more; remove from the heat.
Carefully whisk in the heavy cream; the caramel will sputter and possibly harden. If it hardens, stir over low heat until melted again. Remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, milk, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk half of the hot caramel into the egg mixture, and then whisk the egg mixture into the pan of caramel. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles, about 4 minutes; it's OK if it's lumpy at this point. Continue simmering while whisking until smooth and very thick, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla . Transfer to a large bowl set in a larger bowl of ice water and whisk often until cooled to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
Make the meringue and assemble the soufflés
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl,
using a hand-held electric mixer), beat the egg whites on high speed
until foamy, about 30 seconds. With the motor running, add the cream of
tartar and continue beating until the bubbles become smaller and the
whites almost form soft peaks, 30 to 60 seconds more. With the motor
still running, add the confectioners’ sugar 1 Tbs. at a time and beat
until the whites hold a glossy, pointed, stiff peak when you remove the
beater, about 30 seconds more. If the peak droops, finish whisking them
to stiff peaks by hand to avoid overbeating.
Stir the pastry cream with a large silicone spatula to loosen it, then
stir in a third of the meringue until combined. Gently fold in another
third of the meringue by starting at the edge of the bowl and slowly
bringing the spatula up through the middle of the pastry cream and then
back to the edge of the bowl, rotating the bowl and repeating this
motion until the meringue is mostly incorporated. It's OK if there are a
few white streaks at this point. Add the remaining meringue and fold
until just combined, leaving no white streaks visible.
Divide the soufflé mixture evenly among the prepared ramekins and smooth
the tops with an offset spatula. Run your index finger around the edges
of the ramekins to create a shallow trench. Put the ramekins on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until
a skewer inserted in the center of a soufflé comes out with just the
tip still wet, 15 to 20 minutes. Dust the soufflés with confectioners’
sugar, if you like, and serve immediately with the sauce.
Make Ahead Tips
You can make the sauce up to 2 days ahead and refrigerate in an airtight container. Serve cold or reheat gently and serve warm.
The pastry cream can be made up to 1 day ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.
You can assemble the soufflés in their ramekins up to 2 hours ahead and refrigerate until ready to bake.
nutrition information (per serving):
Sample size 1 soufflés and 1 Tsp. sauce.;
Photo: Scott Phillips