For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been pausing on my treks about campus every couple dozen feet and sniffing the air like a crazy person. Why? Because it’s osmanthus season, which is apparently a concept that is entirely foreign to most people living around these parts, despite the fact that osmanthus bushes are everywhere around here.
What is an osmanthus, you ask? It’s a teeny tiny white, 4-petaled flower that resides in bushes with pointy, dark green oval leaves. It also has a particularly distinctively sweet fragrance that is completely unmistakable once you learn to notice it, hence the aforementioned pausing in the middle of the road and sniffing the air like a loonie.
(Incidentally, osmanthus bushes were also particularly ubiquitous in the area where my mother grew up, and she spent much of her childhood gallivanting about and surreptitiously plucking tiny fragrant blossoms from nearby hapless bushes.
I may or may not have picked up on these semi-illicit tendencies.)
At any rate, my absolute favorite use for these itty bitty blossoms is to dry them and add them to a healthy handful of green tea leaves for a perfectly delightful pot. Fortunately, since we planted our very own osmanthus bush in the backyard a few years back, we’ve been diligently harvesting and drying for our own stockpile every autumn, which means osmanthus tea and osmanthus blossoms preserved in sugar for days. And with the latest harvest (the second one of the year! I think Hurricane Matthew may have confused our poor little bush), I figured it’s about time to use up the rest of the stock from last fall – and what better way than in the form of souffle?
So for this week, join me in defying the return of far-more-appropriate-for-summer-than-mid-October weather to the Southeast and turning the perfect fall cup of tea into a delightfully high-brow treat. Hope you enjoy!
Matcha Souffle with Osmanthus Creme Anglaise
Souffle recipe adapted from Eugenie Kitchen
Makes 3 souffles (using 4″ ramekins)
Osmanthus Creme Anglaise:
3/4 cup milk, any kind (higher fat content makes for richer creme!)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbs dried osmanthus for tea (find them at your local Asian grocery store or here!)
2 egg yolks, room temperature
3 tbs granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk, any kind
1/2 tsp matcha powder
1 tbs unsalted butter
10 g (1 tbs) all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
2 large eggs, separated to yolks and whites
1 drop green food coloring
30 g (2 tbs) powdered sugar
Extra butter and granulated sugar
Osmanthus Creme Anglaise:
- In a small pot, add the milk, cream, and dried osmanthus. 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.
Tip: DO NOT bring the mixture to a boil – the egg will precipitate out of mixture and get grainy and icky.
- 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 osmanthus using a fine-mesh sieve.
- 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 osmanthus blossoms, a smudge of honey mixed with dried osmanthus blossoms, 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!
- 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 pour the hot milk over the matcha powder. Stir to dissolve, then set aside.
- In a small pot, heat the butter on medium until it is fully melted, then add the flour and salt 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. As desired, add the drop of green food coloring. 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 green 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!