This past weekend, I was 130% in the mood for tea. Not just my ordinary cup of green haphazardly thrown together any hour of the day but a proper English tea served promptly at 4:00 pm. And what is tea time without a sweet, indulgent treat to nibble on between perfect sips from dainty floral cups?
That being said, I was definitely a bit worried about finally tackling souffle. I don’t really have the best track record for getting things that are notoriously tricky (or not at all tricky by any stretch of the imagination) not quite right the first time around . To be honest, I think I might actually subconsciously take “fool-proof” as a challenge. At any rate, the many horror stories about sad, deflated souffles that just wouldn’t rise weren’t doing much for my confidence.
To my surprise though, souffles are not nearly as finicky as their reputations might imply. Just remember to be gentle as you fold together batter into the meringue, and fill up the ramekins to their very brims, and above all else, DO NOT open your oven door before the souffles are fully cooked. Keep those three tips in mind, and I promise that your fluffy little pillows will rise!
(That being said, no matter what you do, your souffle WILL start deflating the second you pull them out of the oven and continue to do so at an alarming rate until every crumb is gone. So get everyone to the table in advance to wait together in eager anticipation for the souffles, not the other way around! (: )
Also, can I just point out that today’s treat is basically the perfect combination of a British cuppa and highbrow French cuisine doused liberally in not one, but two flavors of tea? For the souffle, we have a traditional French dessert infused with a quintessential blend from Twinings of London. And to complement the delightfully creamy but fluffy base, we have creme anglaise, a classic French dessert sauce that literally means “English cream.” The whole fusion thing just works on so many levels, and my inner nerd is just so happy about that.
So next time you find yourself alone at home on a rainy day, never fear – put on a kettle and whip up a batch of these puffy clouds of joy. It’s totally worth it! Hope you enjoy!
PS, yes, I realize that the recipe makes a very odd number of servings, but when I made the recipe with 3 eggs, I awkwardly ended up with a little over 5 souffles’ worth of batter. Plan accordingly? (Or plan for 2 and enjoy the extra souffle!)
Earl Grey Souffle with Lavender Creme Anglaise
Souffle recipe adapted from Eugenie Kitchen
Makes 3 souffles (using 4″ ramekins)
Lavender Creme Anglaise:
3/4 cup milk, any kind (higher fat content makes for richer creme!)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbs dried food-grade lavender
2 egg yolks, room temperature
3 tbs granulated sugar
Earl Grey Souffles:
1/2 cup milk, any kind
1 Earl Grey packet
1 tbs unsalted butter
10 g (1 tbs) all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
2 large eggs, separated to yolks and whites
30 g (2 tbs) powdered sugar
Extra butter and granulated sugar
Lavender Creme Anglaise:
- In a small pot, add the milk, cream, and lavender. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then remove the pot from the heat.
- Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until well combined. Transfer about 1/3 of the lavender milk into the egg-sugar mixture, whisking briskly as you pour.
- Place the remaining 2/3 of the lavender milk back over low heat. Immediately pour in the egg mixture, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.
- Remove the creme from heat and transfer into a large bowl to cool. Refrigerate the creme for at least 90 minutes before straining out the lavender using a fine-mesh sieve. If desired, tint with red and blue liquid food coloring until the lavender creme is, well, lavender.
Tip: For a stronger lavender flavor, chill the creme with the lavender for a longer period of time (up to overnight) before straining. Also, you need a lot more red than you think to do to make for a nice lavender instead of an awkward gray-ish periwinkle.
- Continue chilling the strained creme until you are ready to serve!
Plating (part 1):
- For each souffle, on a large plate, arrange a dollop of whipped cream topped with lavender, a small pile of blueberries, and a small shot glass (or espresso cup) of creme anglaise. Leave room for the souffle ramekin to be added at the last minute!
Tip: When you leave room for the souffle, remember that you will be wearing thick, bulky oven mitts when you put down the souffle, so plan your spacing accordingly!
Earl Grey Souffles:
- Preheat the oven to 390 ºF. Prepare 3 ramekins by liberally coating the insides with a layer of butter, then sprinkling on a layer of granulated sugar.
Tip: To create an even coat of granulated sugar, fill the ramekin about 1/3 full with sugar over a large plate, then tip the ramekin over on its side and rotate until a thin, uniform layer of sugar covers the inside.
- Gently heat the milk just until it is too hot to touch (either in the microwave or on the stove), then steep the Earl Grey in the hot milk for about 2 minutes. Remove the tea bag, squeezing out any excess milk back into the bowl. Set aside.
- In a small pot, heat the butter on medium until it is fully melted, then add the flour all at once, mixing briskly with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated.
- Remove the butter-flour mixture (this is called roux!) from heat, then add in the flavored milk, stirring until uniformly mixed.
- Place the pot back over medium heat and allow the mixture to thicken until it comes to a boil.
- Remove the pot from the heat and allow the mixture to cool until it is just cool enough to touch. Add in the egg yolks one by one, stirring thoroughly to combine after each addition. Set this mixture aside.
- In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, whip the egg whites just until the mixture is opaque. Add in the powdered sugar and continue beating until the resultant meringue is stiff, glossy, and can be easily inverted without falling over.
- Transfer about 1/3 of the meringue into the egg yolk mixture and stir gently until thoroughly combined and no yellow streaks remain.
- Gently fold this mixture back into the remaining 2/3 of the meringue, mixing just until fully combined.
- Fill each ramekin to the brim, smoothing the surface by running the flat side of a knife across the top.
- Place the filled ramekins onto a large baking sheet, then immediately bake the souffles on the bottom rack of the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until they are well risen and their tops are lightly browned. DO NOT open your oven (not even to peek!) until you are ready to serve!
Plating (part 2):
- Transfer each ramekin into its spot on the large plate. Dust the tops with powdered sugar and serve immediately. Bon appetit!