The Barefoot Contessa's blue cheese soufflé

Any disappointment I felt when these little soufflés began to deflate upon coming out of the oven was more than made up for by their exquisite taste and texture. Incomparably light, yet rich, and perfect for pairing with tossed greens or -- in our case -- asparagus lightly seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper. Not too shabby for a first attempt at a soufflé.

Blue Cheese Soufflé

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk, scalded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of nutmeg
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
3 ounces Roquefort cheese, chopped
5 egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

The key for this recipe is to remember to take your 5 eggs out of the fridge well beforehand.

Once your eggs are at room temperature, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter and dust with Parmesan cheese the inside of 6-8 small ramekins, depending on how big you want your soufflés (I used 6). Alternatively, use an 8-cup soufflé dish.

Separate your eggs: one bowl with 4 yolks and one bowl with 5 whites.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until smooth and thick.

Off the heat, while still hot, whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the Roquefort and Parmesan cheeses and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and a pinch of salt for 1 minute on low speed, 1 minute on medium speed and then on high speed until firm, glossy peaks are formed.

Whisk one-quarter of the egg whites into the cheese sauce. Fold in the rest of the egg whites carefully. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish(es). Smooth the top and draw a large circle on top to help the soufflé rise evenly. Place in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until puffed and brown. Don't open the oven door during baking! Serve immediately.

Serves 3-4.

Source: The Barefoot Contessa

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