How to make hot chocolate soufflés

It’s semi-final week in The Great British Bake Off tent and the remaining four bakers are a bit like winners of a Willy Wonka-style golden ticket, as they progress to chocolate week.

How to make hot chocolate soufflés

 

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This week’s technical challenge isn’t an exotic patisserie item, it’s something we’ve all heard of: chocolate soufflés. The ideal chocolate soufflé should be beautifully rich but light as a feather – but this delicacy brings risks: soufflés are notorious for their tendency to collapse.

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The soufflé’s reputation strikes terror into the heart of many a cook (me for example). I enjoy baking, but I’ve got to admit that I’ve never been brave enough to attempt soufflés. So here goes…

I followed the hot chocolate soufflé recipe from Mary’s Baking Bible book, which as she says herself was “not difficult to make, but needs a bit of care with the timing”. First bit of advice: have everything weighed out and ready to go so when you need to add the flour to the melted butter you have it to hand.

As with most sweet soufflé recipes you start by making a creme patissiere – first I melted chocolate with milk and a splash of water, then in a separate pan I made a roux before adding the chocolate milk and heating to thicken it. Then you must let the mixture cool down before beating in the egg yolks; otherwise you’re at risk of a chocolate scrambled egg concoction (yuck!).

The next step is an important one – whisking the egg whites. Mary’s recipe says they should be stiff not dry… what does that mean?! I whisked them so they held soft peaks but didn’t resemble a thick glossy meringue mix. One tablespoon is quickly folded into the chocolate mix to loosen it before the rest is ever-so-carefully folded in.

(Please note, do not mix at this speed, you will not get light fluffy soufflés. This video was sped up for viewing purposes only…)

Then I divided the mixture among four greased soufflé dishes. At this stage I wasn’t sure they were full enough so I only filled three dishes… After all, I wanted that familiar puffed-up top hat look!

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I popped them in the oven on a pre-heated baking tray and waited nervously. After ten minutes they still looked too wobbly so I left them cooking – 15, then 20 minutes went by, but they still weren’t ready. Finally after 25 minutes they were ready. Phew!

Dusting with icing sugar and eating immediately was the easy part…

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Well my first attempt at making soufflés turned out to be ok! They were light and fluffy, albeit slightly monstrous (maybe they would have been ok in four dishes), the chocolate flavour was delicate – I like my puds a bit sweeter – but served with some vanilla ice cream I think they’d be a winner. I look forward to seeing how the contestants fare tonight!

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