I haven’t made a souffle in a really long time.
Contrary to popular belief, souffles are actually pretty easy to make. You just need to follow a few rules—and not breakdance in the kitchen when they’re in the oven. (One of my souffles did flop on me, but it was totally my fault. Read on and you’ll see why.)
This particular souffle recipe comes from the good folks at Fine Cooking magazine, and features orange marmalade—one of my favorite substances on the planet. (I swear I don’t eat it straight out of the jar. Most of the time.)
These souffles get a triple dose of citrus flavor from a syrupy mixture of marmalade, orange liqueur, and lemon juice.
The tops bake into beautiful, almost-chewy meringues that are rimmed with little bits of crunchy sugar. The insides are soft, airy orange-scented bliss shot through with bits of candylike rind.
An added bonus? This recipe qualifies as gluten free.
Now, this recipe only has a handful of ingredients. Sugar. Marmalade, of course. I like Bonne Maman brand, but use any kind you like. Orange liqueur. (I used Triple Sec, but Cointreau would be good, too.)
Lemon juice. Egg whites. Cream of tartar.
What is cream of tartar?
Cream of tartar is most often used in the kitchen to stabilize egg whites as you beat them and give them more volume. It also finds its way into candies and frostings to help keep them nice and creamy.
Where does cream of tartar come from? It’s actually (drum roll, please) a byproduct of making wine.
Yep, wine. (Potassium bitartrate from the grapes crystallizes on the insides of wine casks.) Most American markets will keep it with the spices or the baking supplies. It’s white powdery stuff and comes in a small jar.
What makes a souffle rise?
I’m oversimplifying a little, but two things make a souffle rise: Air and protein.
When you beat the egg whites, you’re incorporating lots of air into them. These air bubbles will expand in the oven and cause your souffle to rise. The heat from the oven will also stabilize the protein in the whites, which gives the souffle its (albeit fragile) structure.
8 tips for making a perfect souffle
Here are some tips that will improve your chances of souffle success:
- Make them, then serve them. Souffles need to be served hot out of the oven.
- Bring the egg whites to room temperature before you beat them. They’ll take more air that way. (More air = more height.)
- Carefully separate your egg whites from the yolks. Any traces of fat from the yolks will keep the whites from beating up properly.
- Use a very (very, very) clean bowl to whip your whites.
- Be sure to beat the egg whites long enough. That means to stiff peaks (not soft peaks). But don’t overbeat them to the point where they get grainy (you can actually destabilize that network of air bubbles you worked so hard to create).
- Fold the egg whites into the marmalade mixture gently. (Don’t stir it. Don’t beat it. You don’t want to deflate the whites.)
- Test the souffles for doneness by inserting a metal skewer into them. Like testing a cake, the skewer should come out clean, not covered in egg-y mixture.
- Don’t jump around in the kitchen when the souffles are in the oven.
All that said, sometimes your souffle will flop
I said earlier that one of my souffles flopped—and that it was my fault. It was.
This recipe makes six individual souffles.
Now, I only have four ramekins at home. (You see where this is going.) I made the full recipe, and figured I’d just bake them a little longer. Turns out, I filled one too much and didn’t bake it long enough.
Three of my souffles came out well. The fourth—one that got a little more of the souffle mixture than the others—flopped.
I would have known this was going to happen—if I tested them with a metal skewer. Which I didn’t. So two strikes against The Mouse. I did, however, wind up with three perfectly lovely souffles, so I’m still considering this a victory.
The moral of the story? Use this recipe, but follow the instructions and fill six ramekins. (Six. Not four. Sigh.)
3 Tbls. sugar + more for the ramekins
2/3 cup marmalade
1 Tbls. lemon juice
1 Tbls. triple sec
2 egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar (about 1/16th of a teaspoon or so)
Makes 6 individual soufflees (in 6 oz. ramekins)
How to position your oven racks
Do this first. It’ll only take a sec, and you won’t want to stop to do it once the souffles are ready to go into the oven. You’re going to bake the souffles on the bottom rack. Move the top rack so that you give your souffles about six inches of headroom.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Coat the ramekins with butter and sugar
Grab your ramekins. Generously butter the insides, making sure to get in all the corners.
Put a spoonful of sugar in one.
Roll the sugar around in the ramekin until it coats the bottom and sides.
When it’s coated, tap the excess sugar out. (Tap the sugar out over the next ramekin to use up all the sugar.) Repeat until you’ve coated all the buttered ramekins.
As the souffle rises in the oven, a little bit of this sugar will stick to the edges, providing a really nice texture and crunch.
Make marmalade mixture
Put the marmalade into a large mixing bowl.
Add the lemon juice and orange liqueur to the bowl.
Whisk it all together until it’s uniform.
Like this. Set it aside while you deal with the egg whites.
Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks
Measure out your sugar and set it aside.
Put the egg whites in the bowl of your mixer—or in a large mixing bowl if you’re using a handheld mixer or beating by hand. (I started mine out in my KitchenAid, then switched to beating by hand because my whisk attachment wasn’t quite getting to the bottom of the bowl…two egg whites isn’t a lot.)
Be sure that you don’t get any yolk in the whites. The fat in the yolks will keep them from poofing up properly.
Toss in a pinch of cream of tartar. Beat the egg whites until they’re frothy.
When they start to get thick and opaque, start to sprinkle in the sugar little by little, beating as you go. You should notice the whites increase in volume and get glossy.
Stop beating when they hold a stiff peak, like this. (A stiff peak will stand up straight. A soft peak will flop over.)
Fold the beaten egg whites into the marmalade
Scoop about a third of your beaten egg whites into the bowl with the marmalade mixture.
Gently fold them in. Use a light hand. The goal is to knock as little air out of the egg whites as possible. (Less air = less poof when they bake.)
When you’ve incorporated the egg whites, fold in another third.
Then fold in the last third.
Your finished mixture should look about like this.
Fill each ramekin about halfway. Use all six ramekins. Don’t overfill them. (Remember my flopped souffle above.)
Bake the souffles
Put the ramekins on a sheet pan. Pop the pan into your preheated, 425-degree oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the top is a nutty brown color.
As they bake, they’ll start to poof up.
…and poof (it’s that tall one on the back right that flopped on me)…
They’re done when the top looks about like this.
Serve them immediately.