Cheese Souffle

Light, fluffy, and aromatic, a cheese souffle is a particularly glorious dish to make for a special lunch, brunch, or dinner. Souffles are often stigmatized as very scary, fancy things, that are finicky and impossible to keep fluffy. False! Souffles are very hearty and simple dishes, made with the basic ingredients of egg, cheese, and milk. They will stay aloft as long as you keep the oven nice and hot. I got this recipe from The Little Paris Kitchen cookbook.

3 eggs, separated plus 1 egg white
A pinch of nutmeg and salt
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tbs flour
1 cup whole milk
3 1/2 oz gruyere, or another sharp cheese, grated.
2 Tbs butter, softened
1/4 cup bread crumbs
A few drops of lemon juice

Total Time: 1 1/2 hours
Bake: 15- 20 minutes

To make the Cheese Sauce:
1. Beat the egg yolks with the nutmeg, salt, and mustard until frothy:
2. Add the flour and mix thoroughly.
3. Heat the milk to a boil, then slowly add it to the eggs. Keep pouring in a steady stream while continuously beating. This may take some practice, but you need to keep the eggs moving.
4. Put the mixture back on to the heat, in a clean pot if you can. Continue to mix, scraping the bottom and sides so it doesn't burn. Once the sauce thickens and releases a few bubbles, take it off the heat.
5. Stir in the cheese until it's completely melted. Place in a bowl and press cling-wrap onto the surface of the sauce. Chill in the fridge till cool.

To make the souffles:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Prep the ramekins (or any thick oven-proof mug will do): Rub butter over the sides and into the corners, then run a teaspoon of breadcrumbs around the sides to cover each (I used parmesan cheese, which worked great.)

3. Beat the 4 egg whites and lemon juice till stiff peaks form.
4. Take the cooled cheese sauce, and stir it till it's smooth.
 5. Add half of the whipped egg whites, until the mixture is well combined. Then carefully fold in the rest of egg whites.

6. Divide the batter into the ramekins, and scrape off the top with a palate knife or a large knife. Create trenches around the sides of the ramekins with your finger to help it rise.
7. Bake these bad boys on a cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes, dropping the temperature down to 350 F. If the tops still need browning after 20 minutes, turn it to fan and give them another few minutes. Once they've risen twice their size, pull them out.
Voila! So yummy and fragrant, these are well with the special prep time. Serve immediately, and don't worry if they deflate a little, they'll taste delicious all the same. I made mine with a Roasted Tomato and Basil soup and it was utterly divine. Happy eating!


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