Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Grand Marnier Souffle' with Vanilla Sauce - Restaurant Quality Dessert

It's the twelfth hour of a very fun, exciting, memorable... and the most exhausting day in my cooking career. So, instead of something simple like chocolate dipped strawberries, I decided to make something that demands nearly an hour of non-stop whisking... My arm is still sore.

The mystique of a souffle is daunting. Nothing says delicate and impossible for a home cook to do like these little beauties. I am not going to blow smoke up your aprons, this was very difficult to do, lots of elements, LOTS of whisking... But when it turned out... Very satisfying!

Here's what I did...

As always, assemble the ingredients first. Believe it or not, this recipe is evolved from one published in COOKING LIGHT. Not sure why they ever published it, as there is almost nothing light about it... I changed just a few ingredients... Here's what I did...
  • Vanilla Sauce:
  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt

  • Soufflé:
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier (orange-flavored liqueur)
    Actually, I only had Cointreau on hand,
    but that is also an orange-flavored liqueur,
    and worked just fine.
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
Before I get to the recipe, I want to pass on a tip... When separating eggs, use your fingers. Cup your fingers and let the whites droop into a bowl. Works much better than the switch back and forth between the shells method.

But I digress...

Here's how to make the vanilla sauce...

Place 2 egg yolks in a bowl. Separately, place 1 cup whole milk and 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat; heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil).
Gradually add 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture to the 2 egg yolks, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add another 1/4 cup of the milk mixture at a time, til it is mixed, without cooking the eggs. Whisking is your friend to prevent cooking the yolks.
Return mixture to pan; cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly (about 3 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and dash of salt. Pour into a glass bowl; cover and chill. While you assemble and cook the Souffle'.
Preheat oven to 375° (although honestly, you are at least a half hour away from actually cooking. Instead of preheating the oven, it is better that you shack out your arm, trying to increase blood flow... You are going to need it.
To prepare soufflé, coat a medium sized soufflé dish with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Be sure to roll the sugar around the sides to coat up to the lip of the bowl. This gives the egg mix something to grip as it climbs the bowl.
Place 3 egg yolks in a medium bowl; set aside. Place flour in a small, heavy saucepan; gradually add 2/3rds cup of whole milk, stirring with a whisk. Stir in 1/4 cup sugar; add butter. Cook over medium heat until thick (about 5 minutes), stirring constantly. Gradually add hot milk mixture to 3 egg yolks, stirring constantly with a whisk Use the same method as you did with the vanilla sauce to make sure the eggs do not cook. Return mixture to pan; cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly (about 3 minutes), stirring constantly. Stir in liqueur and 2 teaspoons vanilla; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and try to get more circulation in your arm.
Place egg whites, cream of tartar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into milk mixture; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. As you can see from the photo, I used my kitchenaid mixer to achieve the peaks. I could have done it by hand whisking, but I was tired... so tired.
Folding the whites together with the yolk mixture is just a little tough, and needs to be explained. Add a small amount (1/4 of the total) to the yolk mixture first, and go ahead and mix that well. But the remaining 3/4, JUST fold into the mix with as few strokes as possible. It is OK to have visible streaks of white and yellow in the mix.
Spoon into prepared soufflé dish. Place soufflé dish in a 9-inch square baking pan; add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until puffy and set. Spoon about 3 tablespoons sauce over each serving.
Serve immediately.
I saw this presentation once, and wanted to see if I could replicate... I spooned just 2 heaping tablespoons of the souffle mix into a standard 8 ounce coffee cup. I had prepared the cup same as my souffle bowl, with a bit of cooking spray, and enough sugar rolled around to coat the bottom and sides. I cooked this the same amount of time, and it came out great. If I were making this for more than just two people, I do think i would make individual souffles in coffee cups instead of in a special souffle pan. First, I only have a medium sized one, but also, I like the looks of this. It says casual home cooking, but it also maintains that illusion of something special. Be sure your cups are oven proof.

If I were serving in the cups, I would serve them without the sauce, getting them to the table as quickly as possible (yes, they will fall a bit just sitting there, the more you move them around, the more likely they are to fall... but that's OK). When everyone has one in front of them, take a spoon, break the surface at the center and spoon in a couple TBS's of the vanilla sauce.

If you are making multiple servings in one larger souffle bowl (as I did), plate the souffle', and then add the sauce. It looses that presentation factor, unless you do this table side (which is another good reason to make in individual bowls). It is just a little prettier if you sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar over the top!

And the result... Perfect in EVERY way. The dessert was light and airy. The taste was filled with custard and orange. The sauce was equally filled with the vanilla flavor and sweet, without overpowering the souffle'. Would I make this again... probably. For a very special occasion. It is time consuming, difficult... BUT, ultimately among the most satisfying cooking experiences i have ever had!

Every post so far has come with a story, and this one is no exception. Well, there is a small exception. So far, I have been posting stories that made us happy. Good times and the good eats that reminded us of them. This is not one of those stories...

My lovely and talented wife wanted to surprise me with a night of fine dining as a birthday gift. This happened long ago, while we were still dating, and before we got married. She wanted the night to be special, and made reservations at arguably (you bet I'll argue) the best restaurant in Kansas City... The American Restaurant. No arguments about it being among the most expensive restaurants in town... It is, and we expected better.

I do not remember the details of the meal, I do remember very small portions, which is... OK... to a point. we left full, but no doggy bags. But, what i do remember is the dessert. Now, i have been fine dining for awhile, When given an option, I do enjoy ordering a souffle'. It is something you are not likely to get at home, and they are very very tasty. But not this one. And in fact, it came with an insult...

My first clue was that the dessert did not need to be ordered in advance. Every other souffle I have ever ordered needed at least a 30 minute notice to the kitchen. These are not desserts that can be pre-cooked and warmed up. they must be made to order and served ASAP. But, in my excitement and my naivety, when my meal was finished, I did not consider why I could have a souffle' delivered in just a few minutes after ordering.

What arrived was a cookie. It was a very good cookie, it indeed tasted of eggs and vanilla and orange liqueur, but it did not have the texture, the look nor the beauty of a souffle'. it was a cookie.

I did not let the wait staff leave without pointing out that it was not what I ordered. There response... tough. This is the way we serve a souffle' here, this in fact is the way European souffle's are served (really... I may live in Kansas, but I am not fresh from the farm any more... I have had souffle's in Paris, and I know what they serve in Europe). It was suggested that I eat my cookie (although they continued to call it a souffle'), and expand my knowledge of how food is prepared. When I suggested they take it away, and bring a different dessert that i would enjoy more... that offer was rejected.

Words mean things. A souffle' is a souffle', and has a certain look and texture. Changing the look and texture does not make it a bad dish, it just makes it a different dish. If you are going to call a dish a souffle', you should expect problems if you serve a cookie.

Well, at the time this upset Jackie a great deal. She had wanted to have a special night, and it did... color the evening. Since then, we always laugh about the cookie souffle'. It does make us smile, so I included this in our special day. But I have never gone back to The American Restaurant. I also have gone as far out of my way as possible to discourage people from eating there. So, if you ever come to Kansas City, avoid The American Restaurant. If you want a souffle', come and visit me... I'll whip you up one!

Just in case you aren't paying close attention, I am posting my Christmas Eve dinner with my wife. We decided to recreate our culinary journey through restaurant quality meals. So far, you have missed...
Come back tomorrow to see what we did to wrap up the whole meal, and a bit of a teeny tiny rant!! ...


  1. I take my hat off to you Dave! You are much more dedicated to your cooking than I am these days and you make such awesome dishes! I would love to eat at your house!!!

  2. This looks and sounds wonderful! I think that I've only made one souffle in my entire life. In my college food lab. I want to try this again. Love the coffee cup presentation. Very clever.

  3. Very nice! I love the presentation in the mug. It's quite unique. The souffle sounds quite tasty too :)

  4. Gorgeous. I've never been brave enough to tackle souffle. I love the coffee mug one though, that's wicked cool.

    They wouldn't even switch your dessert?! That's just ridiculous and terrible service. I certainly won't eat there if I find myself in KC.

  5. Souffles are one of those things that I am constantly amazed it. They require such perfect timing...crazy. I can understand why the restaurant didn't want to put a souffle on the menu as they are quite unpredictable. But then why not just call it what it was? A cookie.

  6. I'm glad you wrote about The American Restaurant - what a shame!

    You guys are so talented to make have successfully created souffles, it one of those things that I've heard you should wait until all of the stars are aligned for it to come out puffy and airy, not like the cookie TAR served you.

  7. Stumbled across your blog and love the focus! I'll have to give the souffle a shot one of these days when I have a little time to spare.

  8. Your souffle looks gorgeous! But your story about the restaurant is too bad. It's good you can laug about it now. Cookie souffle? Please!

  9. The whole dinner just sounds so amazing and the souffle had to have been fantastic! I have never, ever made one....I would love to try but I'm afraid mine would collapse!

  10. Huh...didn like that american restaurent one bit-so rude really but u know the good that came outa it is ur absolutely fantastic offer no one can refuse-i mean this is fantastic ,have never tried souffle and must soon..what fantastic step by step pics u have here...
    And ur wife's really sweet.
    And thanx a ton for that pat on my back-made my day :-))))))0

  11. Great job on the orange souffle, Dave. So an egg white cookie ... were they perhaps mistaking a macaron for a souffle?

  12. Souffles like macaroons have a mind of their own, you were so lucky it came out perfect. Quite a few bloggers have blogged about theirs disasters. Wonderful dessert to top off a top shelf meal.

    I know your sweetie must have appreciated everything you did to make your Christmas meal so memorable!

  13. Faaaaancy. I've never been brave enough to tackle a souffle. I'm impressed.

  14. i have never even eaten a souffle, let alone made one, fantastic! it looks wonderful!

  15. Brave man for trying a souffle - it is one thing I will not tackle - but yours looks amazing!

    Loved the story too - and I hate when fine dining restaurants treat customers with no respect - its happened to me in the past, and like you, I told everyone I know never to go there!

  16. I've never tried a souffle...too scary. But I love Grand Marnier in anything!!

  17. I love the combination of the orange souffle and the vanilla sauce. I bet it was wonderful. I am amazed at the amount of dishes you made on Christmas Eve. Can't wait to see what comes next.

  18. I kind of find that sometimes Cooking Light recipes are lower in calories, but the portions are SMALL!

    This recipe looks fantastic, and I've so enjoyed reading all the recipes you made, you are so talented!

  19. This looks absolutely scrumptious Dave!

  20. I can't tell who's luckier, you or your wife. I really enjoyed that post and the story. I long for the financial means to attempt the sort of dishes you seem to just whip up. I love the way you write. You remind me of my brother and his humor at Keep up the good work!

  21. My hat is off to your souffle-Looks very nice. I would have been lazy and dipped the strawberries in chocolate and plopped down with a glass of wine :-)

  22. At my house you would get a cookie, souffle, slice of cake, and maybe pie.

  23. Omg, you are killing me with this mouth watering recipe! It sounds and looks amazing! Kudos to you and Jackie on this outstanding meal!

  24. Your souffle looks amazing. And I mean it. Beautiful! And I like the idea of the individual coffee cups. Oh, and I can't believe the server wouldn't get you another dessert! I worked in college as a server, and I seriously can't get over the fact that they wouldn't get you one. How ultimately rude. Especially at a fine dining restaurant. Wow. If I ever come to Kansas City, I will definitely bypass them for you. :)

  25. You are truly amazing and I am impressed. I used to make souffles but have not, in a long time. Yours is tempting except for the time factor and sore arm or hand.

    The presentation factor, dishing it from the main serving piece, looked good to me.

  26. Dave, you are DA MAN. This is a crowning achievement! There is nothing you can't do after this.

  27. WOW! I'm giving you a standing ovation for this! That restaurant incident is just plain awful. I'll go for your souffle any day! :)

  28. Looks terrific!... funny... I made a souffle just yesterday.... stay tuned for that.... also love the I Love NY mug.... always glad to see someone lovin' us New Yorkers!

  29. I love that you made a souffle! Souffles are pretty special to me too - we eloped, and after the wedding ceremony we went to a nice restaurant for dinner. The one dessert on the menu that I really, really wanted was a passionfruit souffle... and I couldn't have it because the oven was broken. Since then, I always try to have souffle on our anniversary!

  30. what a fun delish looking dessert! Ive never tried or even had a souffles. silly me