Julia Child’s Chocolate Soufflé

Since my blog is called G’day Soufflé, I thought it was about time that I actually posted a soufflé recipe. And what better chef to consult for my recipe than the master Julia Child?

In her show The French Chef, Julia explains that a soufflé traditionally uses a thick white sauce combined with flavorings such as cheese, fish or chocolate. For my recipe, I’ve selected a chocolate soufflé, since I love the combination of chocolate with the airy quality of the soufflé. Julia was so excited about cooking a soufflé that she threw her arms up into the air, anticipating the “hundreds of air bubbles” that puff up the soufflé into a wondrous mass.

Julia also cautions us about the basics of making a soufflé: make sure the egg whites are at room temperature before you whip them so they ‘mount’ into nice high peaks. Also, although she starts out by whipping the egg whites by hand in a traditional French copper bowl, she quickly becomes exhausted and switches to the more ergonomic method of using electric beaters. I’m with you on that one, Julia!

Julia becomes so exhausted hand-beating the egg whites in the copper bowl that she slumps over and decides to switch to the electric beaters

The Method

For her Chocolate Soufflé (Soufflé au Chocolat), Julia starts by creating an aluminum ‘collar’ around the straight-sided mold to help contain the soufflé as it rises over the rim. (Be sure and tape or pin the foil securely since my ‘collar’ fell off during the cooking). If you are using smaller ramekins, then this step is not necessary.

Souffle (2 of 2) (1 of 1)

You then make a creamy Béchamel sauce, whip in the egg yolks and then the melted chocolate mixture.

Next comes the egg whites which should be whipped into a velvety sheen and according to Julia, should increase seven-fold in volume.

The egg whites are then gently folded into the chocolate mixture and then baked in the oven. Watch in amazement as your soufflé puffs up over the top! If you don’t want to use a larger soufflé dish, you could also use smaller ramekins.

Chocolate Soufflé
Serves 6
A decadent chocolate dessert with a light touch: Julia Child's 'Soufflé au Chocolat'
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 2-quart straight-sided souffle’ dish or 5-6 smaller ramekins
  2. ½ Tbsp softened butter
  3. 7 ounces of semi-sweet or sweet chocolate
  4. 1/3 cup strong liquid coffee
  5. 3 Tbsp butter
  6. 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  7. 1 cup milk
  8. 4 egg yolks
  9. 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  10. 6 egg whites (3/4 cup)
  11. Pinch salt
  12. ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  13. ½ cup sugar
  14. Powdered sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 F ( 220 C). Butter the inside of the soufflé dish or 5-6 smaller ramekins. If using the larger soufflé dish, surround the outside of the dish with a double layer of aluminium foil or parchment paper so that a 3-inch collar stands above the rim of the dish. (If using smaller ramekins, this step is not necessary).
  2. Melt the coffee and chocolate together in a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water; set aside. In a separate saucepan, combine the flour and butter; whisk over medium heat until the mixture becomes a paste. Gradually whisk in the milk until the mixture thickens. Let cool for several minutes.
  3. One by one, whisk the egg yolks into the hot sauce, then add the melted chocolate sauce, and finally the vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar together until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar until stiff peaks form and the whites become shiny.
  4. Gradually fold the chocolate mixture into the egg white mixture, folding from the outside of the bowl into the center. Pour the mixture into the prepared molds, filling to just below the rim. Place the mold on the bottom part of the oven and lower the temperature to 375 F (190 C). Bake for about 35-40 minutes until the soufflé has risen and a skewer placed into the center comes out clean. Serve immediately.
Notes
  1. If using a fan-forced oven, reduce the recommended temperature by 20 degrees (i.e. 425 F should be lowered to 405 F, etc).
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/
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Sole Meunière – when Julia Child first came to France

I have always been intrigued with the idea of cooking Sole Meunière, the classic French dish first tasted by Julia Child on her arrival in France in 1948. However, I always thought the dish might be a bit too simple (a piece of fish pan-fried in butter!) and also thought it would be difficult to photograph to look good on the plate.

However, after re-reading my copy of Julia’s book, My Life in France, I realized that this recipe was much too important to pass by. After all, this was the dish that re-awakened her gastronomic senses to transform the experience into “the most exciting meal of my life.” Prior to this meal eaten at Rouen’s La Couronne restaurant, Julia had experienced only mundane fish dishes of “broiled mackerel for Friday dinners and codfish balls with egg sauce.”

However, Sole Meunière became a real epiphany for Julia. As she ate the sole “perfectly browned in a sputtering butter sauce with a sprinkling of chopped parsley on top,” she experienced “fish and a dining experience of the highest order than I’d ever had before.” After reading this, I realized that I now had to take the plunge and try this recipe.

In French, a meunière is a miller’s wife, so Sole Meunière literally means sole cooked the way a miller’s wife would prepare it. More prosaically, it refers to fish that has been floured and fried in butter. If you can’t find any sole, you can use other thin fillets such as flounder, John Dory, trout or whiting- I used John Dory fillets.

There are a few tips and variations for this recipe. Julia Child recommends using unsalted clarified butter for frying the fish. This is butter where the milk solids have been removed, thus preventing the butter from burning. You could also use a combination of cooking oil and butter (1:3 ratio) to achieve the same result, although I prefer the clarified butter option.

In order to test whether the fish is cooked, Julia recommends pressing your finger tip against the fish; it should feel ‘springy rather than squashy.’ If it has turned flaky, it is over cooked. She also recommends seasoning the fish with ground white pepper, otherwise it might look like the fish has ‘fly specks.’ You can use black pepper if you wish, but just season the ‘non-presentation side’ to avoid viewing the fly specks.

After you have readied all of your ingredients, this dish is very quick to prepare. The decorative lemon pieces are optional, but I recommend including them; they really dress up the plate. And as for my previous comment about Sole Meunière being too simple a dish to try- this is not true. It turns out that the simpler dishes are often the most delicious!

In order to make this dish, I recommend starting by preparing the decorative lemon slices, using a ‘channeller’ to make grooves in the lemons. First you carve grooves in the lemon going vertically, spacing the grooves about 1/4 inches apart. Then slice the lemon in half horizontally to make ‘star shapes’- then slice these in half.

After preparing the decorative garnish, the rest of the recipe goes quickly. Please note that the recipe says to fry the fish in 3-4 tbsp clarified butter. The amount you use depends on the size of your frying pan and the amount of fish you cook; obviously you would use a smaller amount of butter if using a smaller fry pan, etc. Bon appétit!

 

Sole Meunière
Serves 4
This classic French dish transformed Julia Child from a person who loved to eat into a woman who loved to cook!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
6 min
Total Time
26 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
6 min
Total Time
26 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 – 6 Sole fillets or other thin fish fillets without skin
  2. Salt and white pepper for seasoning
  3. 1 cup or so white flour
  4. 3 – 4 tbsp clarified butter for cooking the fish
  5. 3 tbsp minced fresh parsley
  6. 4 – 6 tbsp additional butter for the sauce
  7. Juice from ½ lemon for the sauce
  8. 2 lemons to decorate the plate
Instructions
  1. Prepare the decorative lemon slices as illustrated in the photos above.
  2. Season both sides of the fish fillets with salt and pepper. Place the flour on a plate and lightly coat each side of the fish with the flour; shake off any excess.
  3. Over high heat, place enough of the clarified butter in a fry pan to form a thin film about 1/16 inch thick. Heat the butter until it becomes very hot, but not turning brown. Reduce the heat slightly and then fry each fish fillet in the butter for about 2 minutes each side; cook only as many fish at one time that will easily fit into the pan. The fish should feel ‘springy’ to the touch when finished rather than ‘squashy.’ Remove the fish from the pan and keep warm while the remaining fish are cooking.
For the sauce
  1. After all fish have been cooked, wipe the pan clean with a paper towel. Over high heat, add the 4- 6 tbsp unsalted butter (not clarified) and heat until it bubbles and starts to turn a nut brown color. Be careful the butter does not burn and turn black. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the juice from ½ lemon. Pour the sauce over the fish fillets, sprinkle with the diced parsley and then arrange the lemon slices decoratively around the plate.
Notes
  1. The amount of butter used in the recipe should be adjusted to both the size of your fry pan and also the amount of fish you are using. If you don't want to use clarified butter, then use a combination of 1 tbsp cooking oil (vegetable or olive oil) to 3 tbsp unsalted butter.
Adapted from 'The Way to Cook' by Julia Child
Adapted from 'The Way to Cook' by Julia Child
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/