Masters & Disasters of Cooking contains comical stories about both my cooking and baking successes as well as my complete disasters. All stories are accompanied by a masterpiece recipe.
To order your copy in time for Christmas, go to Lulu.com. Below is an excerpt from my book.
There's a souffle in the oven
On the other hand, when your project comes out perfect, you feel like you're on top of the world. For instance, my mother once gave me a souffle dish as a gift. I had never eaten a souffle, much less made one. All I knew was that you had to be very careful or it could fall while baking, or worse, not rise at all.
I decided one day to finally give it a try, so I readied for the challenge. I issued orders for the day to my family: no door slamming, no stomping around the house and for goodness sake, do not open the oven door. Basically, just stay out of the house.
The recipe I chose was for a chocolate souffle, after all how could you go wrong with chocolate? It didn't look too difficult to make and my favorite part of the recipe was coating the inside of the dish with sugar. Ah, chocolate and sugar, two of my favorite ingredients. After mixing everything together, I poured it into the dish. So far, so good.
In the oven it went for 35 minutes. That had to be the longest 35 minutes I've ever spent. My oven door doesn't have a window and I wanted to peek in so bad, but I was determined to keep it from falling and kept my curiosity in check.
Finally, the buzzer sounded alerting the end of the baking time. Slowly and carefully, I opened the oven. The souffle towered above the rim of the dish, just like all the pictures I had seen. I was meticulous as I removed the dish from the oven and placed it on top of the stove. I sprinkled the powered sugar over the top and took a step back to marvel at my creation. It was absolutely beautiful; a work of art, I thought. I had to show my husband and went to get him.
When we returned, I couldn't believe what I saw. It looked as though someone had punched their fist right down the middle of it. It had fallen. In my haste to leave the kitchen, had I walked too hard resulting in disaster? It was no longer my beautiful chocolate souffle.
After we tasted it I felt better, maybe not on top of the world, but better. At least that had turned out good and we enjoyed a wonderful chocolate dessert that night. What I found out much later was that souffles deflate in less than two minutes after being removed from the oven. Now why didn't the recipe say that? It would have kept me from the devastation I had felt. I think maybe next time I will try a cheese souffle.
1 1/2 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1/4 t. cream of tarter
whipped cream (optional)
In a double-boiler, melt chocolate over low heat. Remove and set aside.
In another saucepan, melt butter, then stir in flour and cook for about two minutes, but do not let it brown. Add chocolate gradually, stirring constantly. Cook until thick. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add egg yolks one at a time. Beat well after each one. Set mixture aside.
Beat egg yolks until foamy and then add cream of tarter and beat until it can form a stiff peak. Stir a large spoonful of egg white mixture into the chocolate. Mix well and then pour it into the remaining egg white mixture. Fold together gently, but thoroughly.
Butter and sugar the inside of a 1-quart souffle dish. Pour chocolate mixture into dish and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the souffle is puffed up and richly browned. Serve immediately with whipped cream, if desired. Makes 4 servings.