Don’t run and hide just yet! A soufflé may sound – and look – fancy, but it is actually made with basic ingredients using simple techniques.
In other words, it’s my kind of dessert!
The entire process takes about 45 minutes. And in return for less than an hour of your time spent melting, whisking, folding, and baking, you get a sinfully steamy and wonderfully fluffy creation that deserves a 10-minute standing ovation and multiple encore performances.
And if I wasn’t sitting on the couch slowly licking my spoon clean of every last morsel of soufflé, I’d be hooting and hollering until the dog next door starts barking and the neighbors file a noise complaint.
But before that mayhem is unleashed, let’s quiet down for a little lesson. What is a soufflé exactly, and why is its glorious puffiness so fleeting?
A soufflé is a baked dessert with a delicate structure created by the aeration of whipped egg whites folded into a custard base.
As it bakes, the air from the whipped egg whites is released simultaneously as the protein in the eggs coagulates. This causes the soufflé to rise, while being able to hold that height.
Because the structure is not as stable as that of a cake, however, the soufflé will deflate shortly after being removed from the oven.
To help reinforce the weak structure, some recipes add a thickening agent like flour to the base – but I’m keeping this recipe completely gluten free.
Consequently, it will be very delicate, but a small amount of cream of tartar added to the egg whites will help stabilize it slightly.
What this recipe lacks in the form of a solid gluten network, it makes up for in big, uninhibited chocolate flavor! The whipped egg whites are gently folded into a base of melted chocolate mixed with egg yolks, vanilla extract, and salt.
I prepare my version in four individual ramekins, which is a perfect dessert idea when hosting a small dinner party.
The final touches are effortless – just a dusting of powdered sugar, and dessert is served!
Read on for the recipe. You’ll definitely want to review the Cooking by the Numbers section below for further help with each step!Print
Is there anything more impressive than a homemade chocolate soufflé? Learn how to make this beautiful dessert with Foodal’s expert guidance.
For Coating the Ramekins:
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the Soufflés:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 5 ounces dark or milk chocolate, chopped
- 3 large eggs, room temperature, separated
- 1 large egg white, room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar, for dusting
For the Ramekins:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Using 1 tablespoon of butter, grease the sides and bottoms of 4 individual 6-ounce ramekins.
- Place the 2 tablespoons sugar in one ramekin. Turn the ramekin to lightly coat the greased surface. Pour out the remaining sugar into another ramekin, and turn to coat.
- Repeat with the remaining ramekins, disposing of any excess sugar. Set aside the prepped ramekins as you prepare the soufflé mixture/base.
For the Soufflés:
- Completely melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave, or using a double boiler while stirring continually over low heat. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla, and salt until combined. Gradually add the melted chocolate to the yolk mixture, whisking constantly until completely incorporated. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until they are frothy. Continue whisking at high speed while gradually adding the 3 tablespoons sugar. Whip until the mixture holds glossy, medium-stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.
- In three separate increments, fold the egg whites gently into the chocolate mixture until completely incorporated and no streaks of egg whites remain.
- Chill the mixture uncovered in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes, until the mixture has thickened slightly.
- Divide the mixture among the prepared ramekins. The mixture should reach the top of the rim. Use a small knife or offset spatula to smooth the top of the souffle to make a flat surface.
- Run a knife around the very top of each soufflé, creating a narrow clearance between the top of the batter and the rim of each ramekin.
- Place the ramekins on a half baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake until the soufflés have risen above the rims of the ramekins and the tops are dry and the souffles wiggle slightly when you very gently shake the pan, about 12-15 minutes. Avoid opening the oven door excessively, as this may cause the soufflés to collapse.
- Remove from the oven, dust the tops with powdered sugar, and serve immediately. They will be hot and will deflate quickly!
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Mousse
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Dessert
Keywords: chocolate, souffle, gluten-free, flourless
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep Ingredients
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Set out a rimmed half (18-by-13-inch) baking sheet and four 6-ounce ramekins.
For coating the ramekins, measure out 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.
For the soufflés, measure out 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/8 teaspoon salt.
As for what kind of chocolate to use, the choice is yours – pick your favorite! For a sweeter soufflé, use milk chocolate. If you want something with a more intense flavor, use a darker variety, but avoid unsweetened.
Make sure your egg whites and yolks are both at room temperature!
The egg whites will whip more readily when they are at room temperature. Egg yolks that are at room temperature, rather than being cold, will prevent the melted chocolate from seizing, since you are not combining two delicate ingredients with drastic temperature differences.
Step 2 – Prep the Ramekins
Grease the sides and bottoms of the ramekins with 1 tablespoon of butter. You can use a paper towel or a pastry brush to do this.
Place the 2 tablespoons of sugar in one ramekin. Turn the ramekin to lightly coat the greased surface. Pour out the remaining sugar into another ramekin, and turn to coat.
Repeat with the remaining ramekins, disposing of any excess sugar when you’re finished. Set aside the prepped ramekins.
Step 3 – Melt the Chocolate
Completely melt the chocolate and butter together.
You can use either a microwave-safe bowl or double boiler. In the microwave, stir the mixture every 20 seconds until it’s completely melted. Using a double boiler on the stove, stir the mixture continually until it’s completely melted.
Whatever you decide, make sure you are using bowls and tools that contain no traces of water, as this may cause the chocolate to seize!
Once melted, set aside to cool just slightly for about 5 minutes.
Step 4 – Combine Egg Yolks with the Chocolate
In a separate large bowl, whisk together the three egg yolks, vanilla, and salt until combined.
Gradually pour the melted chocolate into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly until completely incorporated.
Rather than adding the chocolate all at once, gradually incorporating it into the egg yolks will help to gently temper the eggs – this will prevent both the chocolate from seizing and the eggs from scrambling!
You may need a spatula to scrape the sides to incorporate anything sticking to the sides of the bowl into the mixture.
Set this mixture aside as you whip the egg whites.
Step 5 – Whip Egg Whites
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until they are frothy at high speed, for about 1 minute.
Continue whisking at high speed while gradually adding the 3 tablespoons of sugar. Whip until the mixture holds glossy, medium-stiff peaks. This should take about 5 minutes.
Do not overwhip the mixture. Whites that form stiff peaks will be difficult to fold into the chocolate in the next step, and they won’t make a smooth mixture.
Step 6 – Fold Egg Whites into Chocolate Mixture
In three separate increments, fold the egg whites gently into the chocolate mixture until completely incorporated and no streaks of egg whites remain.
Don’t try adding all of the egg whites all at once! It will be much easier (and smarter!) to incorporate them in three additions.
Step 7 – Briefly Chill
Place the bowl uncovered in the refrigerator. Chill for about 5 minutes, until the mixture has thickened just slightly. The thicker mixture creates a more stable batter that will keep its shape as it rises.
You don’t want it to stiffen too much, or it will be difficult to spread into the ramekins. Set that timer!
Step 8 – Portion
Divide the mixture among the prepared ramekins. The mixture should be about level with the top of the rim.
Filling the batter this close to the top of the rim will help the souffle continue to rise straight up, rather than out. Use a small knife or offset spatula to smooth the top of the souffle to make a flat surface.
Run a knife or a clean finger around the rim, creating a narrow clearance between the batter and the rim of each ramekin. This little extra step will also help the souffle expand straight up, rather than becoming lopsided and spilling outside of the rim.
Note: Don’t want to take any chances with gravity? Have another mouth to feed? Instead of using four ramekins, you can divide the mixture between 5 ramekins. You won’t get the characteristic height above the rim, but there will be no risk that the soufflés will collapse over the edges.
Step 9 – Bake
Place the ramekins on a half baking sheet and transfer to the oven.
Bake until the soufflés have risen above the rims of the ramekins, the tops are dry, and the souffles jiggle slightly when you gently move the baking sheet. This should take about 12 to 15 minutes. Avoid opening the oven door excessively, as this may cause the soufflés to deflate.
Remove from the oven and serve immediately, topped with a light dusting of powdered sugar. They will be hot!
Uh-oh… did your soufflés deflate, or are they falling from the sides? Are they a sad and gloopy mess? Don’t fret – while you didn’t get to enjoy the “WOW!” factor of a perfect end result, you can still enjoy a delicious dessert! Read on for tips on what to do when you think all hope is lost.
Spoiler alert: you’ll be fine.
Even Better When Cold!
I know, I know… a soufflé is meant to be served and enjoyed as soon as it is removed from the oven. And most of us behave and play by the rules.
But I have a secret for you, just between us bakers.
You can create a completely different dessert if the soufflé chills in the fridge.
If you can resist the pull of the status quo, let the soufflé deflate. Let the soufflé cool down completely. And let the soufflé chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
This is also the best option to save a failed soufflé. Let your failure guide you to a new and brilliant outcome. It will almost feel like you meant for the soufflé to collapse!
Once it cools, the end result is a dream – a dessert that has the texture of a dense and fudgy flourless chocolate cake!
You will absolutely love it. Try it once, and let me know what you think.
Have you had many failures or successes making soufflés in the past? I’d love to know if you’ve ever made one before, and if you have any of your own tips and tricks to share. Tell me everything in the comment section below!
Gluten-free recipes reign supreme, yet again! For more of our favorite wheatless desserts, take a look at these tasty creations that will put a smile on your face:
Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on October 3, 2014. Last updated on January 31, 2022.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is a full-time cheesemonger and specialty foods buyer living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.