“There is such a thing as looking through a person’s eyes into the heart, and learning more of the height, and breadth, and depth of another’s soul in one hour than it might take you in a lifetime to discover, if he or she were not disposed to reveal it, or if you had not the sense to understand it.”
– Anne Brontë, from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Hello, my friend.
It’s been a while.
Seven weeks, to be precise.
This little world into which I pour my sarcasm, silliness, moments of angst, and pangs of nostalgia, woven through chocolatey decadence and cheesy lavishness, has laid silent and seemingly forgotten for seven weeks.
Notice I said seemingly forgotten. Never truly forgotten.
Moment of openness.
The very aspect of this blog that drove me to transient silence is now the aspect that fiercely draws me back.
From the beginning of this entr’acte, it was never intended to be permanent. The momentary intermission was always going to be just that – momentary. However, I didn’t expect the passion of creating in this little world to so determinedly pull me back. That the grip that it holds on the core of my being would employ its strength to cause such an emotional ache at its lack.
And yet, here we are.
Returned once again, as was always the plan, but not by a sense of obligation.
By pure longing.
There is so much more to the creative aspect of this blog than I ever imagined coming into it.
Play with recipes, describe food mingled with a little silliness, type said recipe, hit Publish, right?
Nearly at the dawn of this process, I was struck with the fact that the white and empty screen with nothing more than a blinking cursor was, truly, a blank canvas. Yes, I had recipes to share, but the words? They were absolutely anything that I wanted them to be.
No lines drawn. No parameters within which to remain. Absolutely nothing to curb any and all words that could flow from within my being. The thoughts, the emotions, the passions that relentlessly bound within me – they all had somewhere to spill. An outlet from which they could all stream together into a roaring current made up everything – the light, the shadows, the glimmers, the silhouettes.
This realization, however, wasn’t a moment of inspiration. It followed every post as a constant taunt.
Jeering in my mind, every time I began to write.
“You realize this sounds sickeningly mawkish, right? Idiotic, in fact – a fantastic way to make yourself completely ridiculous.”
The emotion didn’t always lose – it managed to fight its way through a few times.
The vast majority of the time, however, it shriveled. The overwhelmingly frequent result of this struggle against the inner taunting was scrapping the whole post, heading to my piano for a bit to clear my head, and coming back to scribble something silly, dotted here and there with sarcasm. Something safe to send out into the universe for anyone to read.
Fighting against this same struggle, time and time again, started to become exhausting.
“What is my style of writing?? Am I silly and shallow, or deep with emotion laid bare?”
Not that I desired every post to be an emotional experience – I am an incredibly happy person, and sometimes I am truly in a light and fluffy mood. But I couldn’t stand writing every single post that way.
Because I’m both.
At once light and shadow, shallow silliness and depth of emotion.
A step back seemed in order.
A brief respite. An intermission to remember why I love doing this in the first place.
Creating food, creating food that then creates an atmosphere, creating words that could possibly brighten the day of someone I would never even meet. And if nothing else, releasing the words – the emotion – that burns inside me. Sometimes soft and fluffy, sometimes deep and riskier, but released.
And so. Seven weeks later. Seven weeks stronger. The jeer still taunting, but very nearly drowned out by the fire to create.
And at the end of this respite? Finally reaching the realization that I don’t have to choose.
Sometimes light. Sometimes venturing into the shadow of emotion.
But always true to myself.
And it feels so amazing to be back to this little world.
How I’ve missed you.
All right. So, down to business.
The classic chocolate souffle. The full glory of deeply rich dark chocolate, in the form of an airy, molten cloud of indulgence.
This is then drizzled with a richly creamy custard sauce, known as creme anglaise, brightened with the unmistakable flavor of lime, with an added dimension of warmth from a smattering of ginger.
Simultaneous depth of richness, airy brightness, and comforting warmth.
Sunshine and shadow realizing their true worth lies when working as one.
Souffles have a reputation for being a bit touchy, but as long as it's done with care, you have absolutely nothing to fear.
Getting the proportions exactly right is crucial with a souffle, so - as measuring ingredients is far more accurate by weight than by volume - the ingredients are listed in grams. (However, I did list a few of the ingredients with approximate volume measurements, so you have a basic ballpark to start with, and you're not left wondering whether you need 47 eggs or 2. Please still measure everything by grams though, and use any volume measurements simply as a starting place.)
Souffle recipe adapted from ChefSteps.
- 1½ cups whole milk
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
- zest of 1 lime
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 34 grams butter, melted (approx. 2½ tablespoons), plus extra for coating ramekins
- 98 grams sugar, divided into 75 grams and 23 grams, plus extra for coating ramekins
- 34 grams flour
- 4 grams salt
- 188 grams whole milk (approx. ¾ cup)
- 135 grams dark chocolate, chopped
- 68 grams egg yolk (from approx. 3 eggs)
- 112 grams egg white (from approx. 5 eggs)
- confectioner's sugar for dusting, optional
- In a large saucepan, combine the whole milk, heavy cream, vanilla, ginger, and lime zest. Cook over medium-low heat just until bubbles start to appear around the edges, it should take about 5 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks just until combined. Slowly add half of the warm milk mixture, whisking as you pour. (Adding the hot mixture all at once could cook and curdle the eggs - tempering the eggs by bringing them slowly up to temperature keeps your sauce smooth and creamy.) Pour the mixture back into the saucepan, and stir constantly while cooking over medium-low heat until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 4-5 minutes. (If at any point you start to see chunks of cooked egg in your mixture, that's a sign that it's being heated to quickly and the sauce is curdling. All is not lost, though - in a bind, you can transfer the mixture to a food processor and blitz until smooth, then return to the saucepan on a lower temperature to continue thickening if necessary.)
- Once thickened, remove from the heat and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Thoroughly butter 3 5-6 ounce ramekins. Pour a small amount of sugar in one ramekin, and turn on its side and rotate so that the inside of the ramekin is fully coated in a layer of butter, and then a layer of sugar. (This gives the souffle something to hold onto to help it rise.) Repeat with remaining ramekins.
- Combine the flour, 34 grams of melted butter, and salt in a small bowl until thoroughly mixed.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and 75 grams of sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Add the flour mixture to the saucepan, and whisk until dissolved. Reduce heat to low, and cook for 4 minutes on low heat until the mixture is thick and gummy. (It won't look appetizing at this point, and that's ok. I promise.)
- Add the chocolate and stir until completely melted and thoroughly incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a medium mixing bowl, and let cool for just a couple minutes until warm - not hot - to the touch. (Again, we don't want it hot enough to cook the egg yolks. Warm is ok, but if it's uncomfortably hot to your finger, it will be uncomfortably hot for the eggs.)
- Add the egg yolk and whisk until fully incorporated. Set aside.
- Whisk the egg whites just until it forms a light foam. Add the remaining 23 grams of sugar, and whisk on high until stiff and glossy peaks form.
- Now, we need to immediately add the meringue to the souffle base, but we don't want to lose any of that air we just took the time to beat into the egg whites. The way to avoid this is by whisking in a small amount - about ¼ of the meringue - into the base first, to loosen it. Then carefully fold about ½ of the remaining meringue into the base. Repeat with the remaining meringue, making sure to fold, not stir, until incorporated and you don't see any big chunks of unmixed white meringue.
- Immediately fill ramekins to the top. (The meringue immediately begins to lose air as soon as you stop whisking it, so the sooner you can get the souffles in the oven after beating the egg whites the better your rise will be.) Use the back of a knife to level off the surface, and carefully run your finger around the top of the edge to remove any drips. (Drips will prevent the souffle from rising evenly.)
- Place the ramekins on a baking sheet, and bake for 17 minutes for a custardy center, or 18-19 minutes for a fully set souffle.
- Dust with confectioner's sugar, and serve immediately with the creme anglaise. (It's best if you split the souffle open and pour the creme anglaise inside.)
If you ever have any questions, remember I’m only a comment or email away!
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