We used to go out on Valentine’s Day. Big expensive dinners with menus studded with exotic aphrodisiac ingredients that we booked months ahead of time. One year at a fancy French restaurant in New York, the chef decided to do a his and hers menu, with no substitution allowed. I spent the evening coveting Steve’s dinner of truffled venison and chocolate cake while I was served feminine portions of sole and passion fruit mousse. My anger grew all evening long and I finally threw a fit over dessert, demanding the “manly” chocolate. I would have marched into the kitchen to personally yell at the sexist chef if that’s what it took to get me my chocolate fix.
Our Valentine’s feasts now take place at home. No reservation stress, no menu frustration, and most importantly, no misguided chocolate denials. We typically start with a cheese souffle, share a prime aged steak, and finish up with chocolate souffles.
I love this particular souffle recipe because it can be made ahead of time. There’s nothing romantic about leaving the table to whip up egg whites. If you make the batter right before cooking it, you’ll get a half an inch more height right when the souffle comes out of the oven, but even if you make this a few hours ahead, you’ll still get a beautiful, light as air chocolate dessert to finish your romantic meal.
Make Ahead Chocolate Soufflés (Adapted From Gourmet Dec 1998)
Makes 8 individual souffle ramekins
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
¼ cup sugar plus additional for coating ramekins
8 ounces fine quality semi-sweet chocolate
4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
4 large egg yolks
7 large egg whites
- If you’re planning on cooking the souffles immediately, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Butter 6 1-cup ramekins (4×2 inches) and coat with sugar, knocking out excess sugar.
- Break the chocolate into coarse chunks. In a small saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add chocolate, stirring until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, let cool for 2 minutes, and stir in yolks.
- In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat whites with a pinch of salt until they just hold stiff peaks. Gradually add ¼ cup of sugar, beating until just combined. Stir one fourth whites into chocolate mixture to lighten and fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
- Divide soufflé mixture among ramekins and smooth tops with a knife. Run tip of knife around edges of soufflés to aid rising. Soufflés may be made up to this point 1 day ahead and kept chilled, loosely wrapped in plastic wrap.
- Bake soufflés on a baking sheet in lower third of oven until puffed and surfaces are cracked, about 20 minutes.
- Top soufflés with ice cream or crème vanille and serve immediately. Serves 6.