I'm getting into a (slight) groove of working full-time, juggling my workouts and fitting in a baking experiment here and there during the week instead of loading up the baking just on the weekends. Although it definitely depends on the recipe and how quickly I can put it together and how much effort it takes. Not to mention how long to write up the blog post.
Souffles are actually pretty easy to throw together and they typically have a short baking time. It's important to have everything ready to go quickly once the whites are whipped up and your oven is at the proper temperature. A souffle gets its airy texture from the stiffly beaten egg whites that get incorporated into the souffle base. Done properly, they can be quite good but if you're planning to serve them to guests at a party, you need to time things carefully. They're at their most impressive when you first take them out of the oven because they'll be high and lofty then. But the more time that goes by, the more they'll deflate since once you take the heat away, the hot air that puffed up the egg whites will dissipate and your souffle will "de-puff" to a dismaying crater.
But, to some people's consternation (including mine), it's hard to eat a souffle at its literal peak because it's simply too hot. So something's gotta give. You can often get around this by deliberating destroying the puffiness (after everyone's admired it, of course) and cutting into the middle to drop a spoonful of whipped cream, creme fraiche or ice cream. That'll help cool the inner heat bomb of the souffle while providing a hot/cold contrast in every spoonful.
I had high (haha) hopes for this banana souffle. The picture looked so good in the Spago Chocolate baking book. And looks-wise, mine turned out reasonably pretty. However, my disappointment was in the texture. I baked it for 11 minutes as the recipe directed and the tops got nicely golden brown so I thought all was fine. Except once I cut into the crust, the souffle underneath was just....mostly warm egg whites. Ugh. And you can barely taste the banana flavor. I tried leaving another batch in the oven for longer and that turned out better to get the proper souffle texture. The melted chocolate in the middle was the best part but it overwhelmed the banana flavor to the point that you could barely taste it. There actually seemed to be too much egg white for the small amount of banana souffle base. I would recommend cutting the egg whites down from 5 to 4 and see if that's any better. Now I remember why I don't usually make souffles (unless it's chocolate). Just can't get into the texture.
1 large or 2 medium (5 ounces) ripe bananas
1 tablespoon banana liqueur or lemon juice
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
5 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Softened unsweetened cocoa powder
Sifted confectioners’ sugar
1. Place the rack in the lowest part of the oven and preheat the oven to 400⁰F. Brush six ¾-cup ovenproof soufflé dishes with melted butter and invert so that the excess butter will run off. Coat well with granulated sugar, tapping out any excess sugar. Arrange the dishes on a flat baking tray and set aside.
2. Puree the bananas and place in a large bowl. Pour the banana liqueur over and mix well. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, using a whisk, whip the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of the sugar until pale yellow. Stir into the bananas and combine thoroughly.
4. In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip or beaters, on medium speed, whip the 5 egg whites until frothy. Add the remaining sugar and the vanilla, turn the speed to high and beat until the whites are thick and shiny and hold their shape.
5. Stir a little of the whites into the banana mixture to lighten, then turn the mixture back into the whites and fold through quickly and completely with a large rubber spatula. Do not overmix. Using a large spoon, spoon the batter into the prepared soufflé dishes, half filling each one. Divide the chocolate, place in the middle of the batter in each dish, and continue filling each dish to the very top.
6. Bake 11 minutes. The tops will be slightly firm and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and sift a little cocoa powder and then confectioners’ sugar over the tops.