I have memories of learning to make cheese soufflé years ago from her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Julia describes this book as, “a book for American home cooks that would present cuisine bourgeoise using the techniques of haute-cuisine.”
A cheese soufflé is a great example of this. With very simple ingredients, it is the technique that brings it to life. I used to make soufflés much more often and I am happy they are back in my cooking rotation.
This is a nice, cozy lunch (or as Julia would say a “perfect luncheon”) with an herbed green salad and a cheese soufflé. I paired it with a bottle of our 2018 Napa Valley Chardonnay, of course.
This is my recipe, adapted over many years from her’s.
A six-inch bottom diameter soufflé mold or a similar sized mold (a coffee can could work in a pinch)
Ingredients for the Mold
1 teaspoon butter
1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan cheese
Ingredients for the Soufflé
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
A pinch cayenne pepper
A pinch of grated nutmeg
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites
⅛ teaspoon Kosher salt
4 ounces grated Gruyère cheese
How To Make
Preheat the oven to 400º
Butter the inside of your mold, sprinkle the finely grated Parmesan cheese onto the buttered interior. If your mold is low, you can add height by tying a folded strip of parchment paper around the exterior of the mold with twine (optional).
In a saucepan melt the butter. Add the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon over medium-low heat, allowing the butter and flour to foam together for two minutes. Remove from heat.
In a separate saucepan, bring the milk to “just shy of a simmer” and immediately remove from heat. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and whisk aggressively until blended. Add the salt, white pepper, cayenne pepper, and grated nutmeg and return to the heat. While whisking bring to boil for one minute to thicken. Remove from heat. Whisk in egg yolks, one at a time. This is your soufflé base.
In separate bowl, whisk egg whites with salt until stiff. Add about a quarter of the stiff egg whites to the base mixture and stir to combine and lighten. Add the grated Gruyère, keeping just a bit back to sprinkle on top, and stir to combine. Gently fold the remaining egg whites in two separate additions.
Transfer the batter to your prepared mold. Sprinkle to top with reserved cheese. Place on the middle rack of oven. Check to make sure that if there is a rack above that there is ample room for the soufflé to rise. Turn the oven heat down to 375º.
Don’t open the oven door for the first 25 minutes, we want the soufflé to build the structure for the rise. Bake until the soufflé has risen significantly and nicely browned. It should still jiggle when moved but not wet in the center, anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes.
Serve immediately with a nice, herbed green salad and a glass of Chardonnay.