Cheese souffle – it’s magical!
5 basic ingredients rise magically and transform into this light as a feather, airy, cheesy delight! This transformation is precisely what gives cooks their high. A cheese souffle is not exactly your standard-issue, make-ahead party material. It is definitely better suited to a cozy gathering of people. This is because a souffle can be a bit temperamental and timing is everything. The plate to palate journey needs to be made in a jiffy. You do want your guests to enjoy the airy lightness before the inevitable collapse. In that sense, souffles seem to demonstrate Newton’s law – what goes up, must come down!
Not as difficult as it is made out to be!
So, the base of a Cheese souffle is actually the tried, tested and familiar white sauce. It’s made with butter, all purpose flour (maida) and milk. Some grated cheese is added and allowed to melt into it. After cooling it down, the separated egg yolks are mixed in. Finally the whipped egg whites are gently folded in. Then, the mix is gently spooned into prepared ramekins. The souffles are transported to a pre-heated oven to perform their magic.
The Cheese souffles are to be treated with great care pre-baking. No knocking them against any hard surface and remember to shut the oven door gently as well. You can add-in a half tsp. of mustard if you like. If you use a slightly stronger cheddar than the processed ones, then you don’t even need this. If you do end us using mustard, remember to opt for the Dijon style rather than the French version.
75gms or 5 tbsp butter plus more for generously greasing the ramekins
3 tbsp flour
100gms mature cheddar or the regular processed one will do in a pinch, finely grated
1/2 tsp mustard (optional)
Breadcrumbs to coat the ramekins
Season to taste
Start with making the white sauce – melt the butter in a non-stick pan and add the flour. Cook the flour till the raw smell is gone, stirring frequently to prevent discolouration. Take the pan off the stove, add the milk a little at a time, stirring with each addition to prevent lumps forming. This is actually the only difficult step in the recipe. In case you do get lumps, fret not. Just whiz the contents of the pan in a blender and pour the sauce back into the pan. Cook stirring frequently, add in the cheese once the sauce gets thicker and stir till the cheese melts. Keep aside the sauce to cool down and prepare your ramekins in the meanwhile.
Wipe the ramekins of all moisture and grease them generously with butter. Pour about 2-3 tsp of breadcrumbs into each ramekin and swirl to coat. Gently tip out the excess breadcrumbs without shaking the ramekin too much. Keep these aside while you separate the eggs. Put the egg whites in a moisture and grease-free bowl and whip with a pinch of salt till soft peaks form. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C while you get on with the last step.
Mix the yolks into the cooled white sauce. Add the mustard if using and season with salt and a pinch of pepper. You may not need too much salt in case you are using salted butter as the cheese would be salty as well. Gently fold in the egg whites with a metal spoon and put the mixture into the prepared ramekins. Set the ramekins down gently in the oven and bake the Cheese souffle till risen and golden – about 20 minutes. Serve then immediately before they start cooling down and collapsing.
You can prepare the Cheese souffle upto the stage of mixing in all but the egg whites. Mix the whipped egg whites in half hour before you need to serve the soufflé and bake it. Serve up this seemingly complicated dish and wait for the inevitable compliments to follow!
A die-hard cheese lover ? Check out the Party pleasers Olive Cheese balls…..