Gang, let me tell y'all how excited I was to be making a soufflé! You couldn't tell me ANYTHING on this day in class, because soufflé just sounds so sophisticated and like a french chef and this dish definitely made me feel this way. I was overly tickled LOL! Now even though I felt officially, official making this dish I still didn't know/understand what exactly a souffle was. It's basically a baked egg dish from whipped egg whites and then flavored with cheeses, seasonings or whatever else one wants to put in them.
What makes them rise is how the ramekin (small cup looking thing) is coated. The higher you coat the walls of the ramekin, the higher your souffle will rise. YOU tell it how high to rise but where you decide to place the coating inside of the ramekin. When I say coating, I mean how you would butter a cake or muffin pan before you pore in the batter. With a souffle you also have to be very careful not to open the oven before time, not even to check on it. Let it do it's thing and it will rise, but if you HAVE to check on it then just make sure that you carefully and barely open the oven to take a quick peek.
Let's jump right in!
For the bechamel base
3TBS shallot finely minced
5TBS AP flour (all purpose flour)
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
6 egg yolks
1 bunch/6 cups spinach
3 oz Gruyere cheese
1 oz Parmesan cheese
For the souffle:
7 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
To Prepare the souffle dish
2TBS butter, room temperature
1/4 cup soft white breadcrumbs
For the ramekin/baking dish:
1.) Preheat oven to 375
2.) Brush a 2 quart souffle mold with room temperature butter. Add the breadcrumbs to the dish shaking and turning the mold so the sides and bottom are evenly coated. Pour out any excess crumbs and set the mold aside.
For the spinach/gruyere mix:
3.) Blanch and shock the spinach cooking just until he stems are tender. Shock and remove from the water. Next squeeze out all the water from the spinach. The spinach should weigh about 6 ounces wen done. reserve the shocking water
4.) Next in a blender, puree 3/4 of the spinach with 4-6 TBS of the reserved shocking water on high speed until uniformly very smooth. Roughly chop the remaining spinach and set it aside, along with the puree and grated cheese.
For the Bechamel sauce:
5.) In a small sauce pan, melt the 5 TBS of butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until translucent. Add the flour and whisk vigorously to combine allowing the roux to on just the slightest of blonde color. Gradually whisk in the milk and cream to make a Bechamel, working slowly to avoid lumps. When they both have been added, whisk vigorously until smooth then turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking frequently to scorching. When the mixture is slightly thickened, remove from the heat and scrape the mixture into a shallow mixing metal bowl. Add the salt.pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg and whisk briefly. Let the mixture cool for 15 minutes.
6.) When the mixture becomes warm to the touch, whisk in the spinach puree then whisk in the egg yolks one at a time, whisking rapidly after each addition. Fold in the cheese and chopped spinach.
7.) Next whip egg whites to stiff shiny peaks but be careful not to over mix.
8.) Scoop approximately 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Using a rubber spatula, mix everything together until fully incorporated.
9.) Fold in the remaining egg whites until everything is fully incorporated.
10.) Lastly, pour the batter into the souffle mold/ramekin. Bake UNDISTURBED (DO NOT OPEN OVEN DOOR!) for about 50 minutes or until a thermometer reads 180 F from the middle of the souffle'. Serve immediately.