love means never having to say…. “my soufflé deflated”

sevensecondrhapsody-baileyssouffle1

For the longest time I was adamant that a soufflé be made, and a chocolate one at that. To put it blindly I was overeager and had already planned the photo shoot – props and all. I was giddy with delight till I realised that hey, I hadn’t yet baked the intoxicating thing.

A lot of recipes turned up the usual suspects, ingredients that I had on stash in my kitchen. Yet I was missing that finesse, that “aha!” or “eureka!” ingredient (I don’t know what the chef equivalent of this particular exclamation is). I found cheese soufflés, apple soufflés, carrot soufflés, but they weren’t the right ones. I found spinach soufflés, kale soufflés, yam soufflés, and by the time I was a little perturbed at the unusual ratio of vegetable-based soufflés, from the corner of my eye I spied my 2 year old bottle of ahem, opened Bailey’s Irish Cream.

I say 2 years because that’s how long I think it’s been inside the fridge and I’m trying to kid myself. I checked the bottle, which was coy in hiding its expiration date from me. I spied a 07 2009 somewhere on the bottle and took a deep breath – close enough for me.

I had to soak the cap in a little hot water to nudge it open. I gingerly inched my nose towards the bottle and sniffed. The nose test was followed by a strict questionnaire: Was it good? Did the cream smell sour?

I couldn’t tell. For all purposes, it smelled okay to me. I surmise the alcohol is a preserving agent. Further Googling confirmed that Bailey’s can be kept for up to 2 years – how about that.

I am grinning from ear to ear.

I held off posting this recipe for awhile to get the recipe right (hence the break in my chocolate affair). I tried a few different recipes with varying results.

The Water Bath

The first being that most of the time, I don’t agree with baking this in a water bath. Because the ramekin is not fully submerged, half the time you could end up with a very inconsistent texture (bottom being runny soft while the top remains firm). This could be my problem of the water bath set-up I use, though.

The other inconsistency would be the timing & temperature. Most recipes I tried didn’t have accurate temperatures, and the top of my soufflés ended up a little tinged in the long haul.

The Overeager Ingredients

What I have posted below is the first recipe I tried, and came out perfect. A lot of paranoia later overcame me, thinking “hey, perhaps a soufflé has more bells & whistles than this?” Not particularly.

Some recipes I tried called for a mixture of milk, butter, and several other ingredients that you’d have to actually step out of the house to buy. That’s all good by me, although what resulted wasn’t some high-end extraordinary soufflé. It was very ordinary, and by far the sweetest concoction ever to grace a ramekin (one version called for two types of chocolate – in chip and powder forms).

Applying the “less is more” rule, this version of soufflé was a humble yet surprisingly extraordinary dessert. Quality of ingredients always counts, so in this case don’t skim on the dark chocolate.

Baileys Soufflé
Like a regular soufflé, only better

1/3 cup granulated sugar
170g bittersweet chocolate (I used Cadbury’s 70% dark cocoa)
3 egg yolks, room temperature
5 egg whites, room temperature
1 tsp cream of tartar
Butter / margarine, unsalted
Icing sugar
2 tbsp Bailey’s (for each soufflé)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter individual soufflé ramekins and rub with sugar. This will help separate the soufflé from the edges a lot easier.

Melt chocolate pieces in a bowl over barely simmering water, constantly stirring. Once chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from heat to cool.

Now, if you want regular soufflés, skip this part. But if anything, here is where you need to add the Baileys. Egg yolks + chocolate mixture will form a slightly pastier mixture, and by then you might have some trouble whisking in your Baileys. So add liquid (Baileys) and slightly liquid (melted chocolate) together.

Now stir in the egg yolks.

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar on medium high speed until foamy and soft. I always suggest to use an electric hand whisk or electric mixer. Speed up the whisking and gradually add sugar. Slow and steady will make sure that you end up with the desire effect – a silky, pearl-like texture. I’ve done it both ways, trust me. If you dump the entire sugar content into the egg whites you will not get firm peaks.

Gently stir egg whites into the chocolate, carefully folding as you go along. It should be an even mixture in the end, not marbled with white streaks.

Spoon soufflé mixture into ramekins and bake for 15 minutes or when till it rises. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately. Soufflés start to deflate after a few minutes.

potatoes in their jackets, segue…. heaven?

This happens to me once in a while, though I never thought it would happen like this. Not being able to think of something to write about. Certainly, it’s a little scary, seeing it up close for the first time, but I suppose it’s just one of those every day things, like your hair falling out when you’re stressed.

Probably not the best of imageries there. Oops.

Of late I have wandered into a void of sorts, surrounded only by the things I love. Which may sound like paradise, but it’s a double-edged sword. You see, very recently a project I have been working on for the past 6 months has now closed. Several other projects in the pipelines have yet not been green-lighted, hence I now find myself with oodles of time on my hands, and very little to do.

Oh of course, the things I love have always been the things I have complained about not having enough time for. I couldn’t finish reading Murakami’s The Elephant Vanishes, even though it is a book of short stories. I couldn’t finish writing the short story that I had such great ideas for. You see I had stumbled upon the perfect scenario, only to find its secret catch.

The perfect scenario came with a receipt of restlessness.

I am an unabashed workaholic. For this brief 6 months when I left full-time work, however, I discovered all these wonderful things I wanted to do but never could before. My projects allowed me enough time to work and more than enough time to spend, so I started this blog, I cooked, I stepped up yoga classes, and I started music lessons.

When the aforementioned project closed, however, I was now left with only the things I loved to do. It was a peculiar feeling. It was so peculiar I turned to listening to my mother, who was in the completely opposite direction. Her colleagues and staff were driving her up the wall. After cooking dinner I would perch cooingly on the bed and listen to her tirade against the injustice that is the hotel industry.

While I waited patiently for my next project, then, I found myself pondering my situation. I had begun this post as a recipe for potatoes. And for the life of me I could not think of something to write about potatoes. Funny-looking, solid, dependable potatoes. (Buzz: things that are good for throwing).

For all this talk of paradise then, I began to wander into a taboo area where the sign read “Don’t tread”. I started to wonder what Heaven must be like (of course this is not the first time, but very different); but I sure do hope Heaven has work and employment. At the very least, you are blessed to work with and for wonderful people, and perhaps trade in food rather than money.

Pesto Potatoes in their jackets

5 Russet potatoes, scrubbed & cleaned
1 bunch of basil leaves
Handful pine nuts
Olive oil
4 tbsp Parmesan cheese
80g salmon meat
Margarine or butter
5 tbsp Minced garlic
Grated cheddar cheese

Wash and scrub potatoes thoroughly. Poke holes into it with a fork. At 180°C, bake whole russet potatoes for about an hour and a half, till they are cooked. Do not use foil to wrap, as that will only just steam your potatoes.

Depending on how much your ‘bunch’ of basil leaves are, you might want to adjust the following ingredients. Put together minced garlic (save 1 tbsp for later), parmesan cheese, pine nuts, basil leaves and blend. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while it’s still blending to get a smooth, consistent mixture.

When potatoes are done, slice in half. Scoop out the flesh from the middle, leaving a nice thin border. Sprinkle sugar into the jackets, turn upside down, and place skin-side up on the roasting pan. Drizzle olive oil, and put into the oven for a second round.

Mash potatoes flesh. Lightly fry garlic in butter, add salmon meat. Pour in pesto sauce, season with salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly. A smooth potato consistency will taste better.

Finally scoop the mixture into the jackets, top with cheddar cheese and bake till melted and browned. Serve hot.