Alright folks, it’s time for my mom’s insanely delicious cheese soufflé. We use Parmesan exclusively, but many recipes call for other cheeses (such as Gruyère) or a blend of cheeses (like Parmesan and Gruyère). You can also add an infinite variety of goodies to your cheese soufflé like spinach, crab, mushrooms, ham, or anything else you can chop up into reasonably small pieces. Remember, this has to puff up into a cheesy, eggy balloon!
1 tbsp soft butter
1 cup + additional 2-3 tbsps grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbsps butter
3 tbsps flour
1 cup hot milk
½ tsp salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
4 egg yolks
7 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease the bottom and sides of a 2-quart soufflé dish with soft butter, then sprinkle in 2-3 tablespoons of grated cheese, tipping the dish to spread the cheese evenly on the bottom and all sides. Set the dish aside.
In a 2- to 3-quart saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, stir in the 3 tablespoons of flour, the salt, and the two killer ingredients: cayenne pepper and nutmeg with a wooden spoon or whisk.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly for 1 or 2 minutes. Do not let the roux (butter and flour mixture) brown.
Meanwhile, get your egg yolks ready. Bet you’ve never seen an overly cute photograph of a glass bowl filled with organic brown eggs in a windowsill before!
You didn’t let your roux brown did you?? Good. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour in the hot milk, beating vigorously with a whisk until the roux and liquid are blended. Return to low heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce comes to a boil and is smooth and thick. Let it simmer a moment, then remove the pan from the heat and beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, whisking until each one is thoroughly blended before adding the next. Set the sauce aside.
With the whisk mixer attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until they are so stiff that they form small points that stand straight up without wavering.
Stir a big spoonful of beaten egg whites into the sauce to lighten it; then stir in all but 1 tablespoon of the remaining grated cheese.
With a spatula, lightly fold in the rest of the egg whites, using an over-under cutting motion rather a stirring motion and turning the bowl constantly.
Gently pour the soufflé mixture into the prepared dish. Lightly smooth the surface with a rubber spatula and sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of cheese on top.
Place the soufflé on the middle shelf of the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 375. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the soufflé puffs up about 2 inches above the rim of the dish and the top is lightly browned. Now my mom always turns the souffle once at the 20 minute mark. She says this is unnecessary but she always does it anyway and tells me to be VERY CAREFUL when turning it. I think this is an act of superstition. Now it’s time to sit calmly with your fingers crossed.
As they say, “You wait for the souffle; the souffle does not wait for you.” So after you take it out and your guests marvel at your culinary masterpiece, don’t be alarmed when your gorgeous creation deflates into a sad omelet. You haven’t failed! Pick it up with your fork and enjoy it because it’s going to be utterly scrumptious. But that being said, seriously serve at once!