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Dark Chocolate Soufflé Cakes with Espresso-Chocolate Sauce

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Serves six.

An espresso twist on the iconic molten-chocolate cake.

  • Softened butter and granulated sugar for the ramekins
For the espresso-chocolate sauce:
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unnsalted butter, cut into eight  pieces
  • Table salt
For the soufflé cakes:
  • 2 Tbs. unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 3 Tbs. granulated sugar

Put a metal or Pyrex pie plate or cake pan in the freezer to chill. Lightly butter six 6-oz. ramekins or custard cups. Coat with sugar and tap out the excess.

Make the sauce:

In a small bowl, combine the espresso powder with 2 Tbs. warm water and stir to dissolve.

In a medium heatproof bowl set in or over a skillet of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring frequently, until smooth. Add two pinches of salt, stir, and remove from the heat. Transfer 5 Tbs. of the chocolate mixture to the espresso and stir to blend. (Set the remaining melted chocolate aside.) Use a spatula to scrape the espresso mixture into a puddle on the chilled pie plate or cake pan and return to the freezer until firm, about 10  minutes. When the espresso-chocolate mixture is firm, use a teaspoon to scrape it into six rough balls. Keep the balls on the plate and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the soufflé cakes:

Reheat the remaining chocolate mixture by setting its bowl in or over the skillet of hot water. When it’s warm, remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa and the 2 egg yolks.

In a clean, dry bowl, beat the 3 egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed in a stand mixer (or on high speed with a hand-held mixer) until the whites mound gently. Gradually beat in the sugar and beat until the whites form medium-stiff peaks when you lift the beaters; the tips should curl over but still look moist, glossy, and flexible. With a rubber spatula, fold about one-quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate to lighten it. Scrape the remaining whites into the bowl and gently fold in until blended, taking care not to deflate the whites. Take the chocolate balls out of the refrigerator and put one ball in the center of each ramekin. Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins and level the tops gently with the back of a spoon.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; heat the oven to 400°F. Put the ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake until the soufflé cakes are puffed and possibly a little cracked on top (a toothpick inserted in the center will meet no resistance and emerge mostly clean—the tip will be wet from the sauce at the bottom), 11 to 14 min. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tips

The assembled, unbaked soufflé cakes can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to two days. They do not need to come to room temperature before baking, but baking time will be one or two minutes longer.

Photo: Scott Phillips

Okay, so I must admit that I let the chocolate cool too much prior to folding in the egg whites. So, mine was sort of "speckled" going into the oven. But the flavors were all there, and they were delicious. A very nice "crack" when you push your spoon into the top crust, followed by the nice surprise of espresso sauce on the bottom, just made for a great soufflé. A word of warning, though: this dessert, though delicious, is very heavy. It can use a small side of ice cream or a topping of powdered sugar to bring it down a bit.

I have made these twice now and both times they have been a huge hit. Not too difficult to make and the end result is definitely worth the effort. Read more here http://wp.me/p12JSw-8S

These were fantastic! I never made souffles before and was expecting it to be a challenge, but the directions were very clear and easy to follow, and they turned out great! I made them for a family dinner, so I prepared them the night before --- after dinner was over, I pulled them out of the fridge, popped them in the oven for fifteen minutes, and I had a fancy little dessert! These are very very rich -- I put some whipped cream on the table to go with, and that helped off-set some of the extreme chocolate. Try it! You'll love it!!

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