Pillbox

A deliciously delectable dessert

This chocolate caramel souffle will make you the envy and hidden desire of everyone you know. (credit: Laura Scherb/Operations Manager) This chocolate caramel souffle will make you the envy and hidden desire of everyone you know. (credit: Laura Scherb/Operations Manager)

The idea of dessert is billed as an afterthought — “oh and by the way here’s some cake” — and actually is anything but. It’s impressive to make an elaborate dinner, don’t get me wrong. But the true measure of becoming a chef, a true cook, worthy of the jealousy of your peers and the envy of your exes, is literally being able to put the icing on the cake and serve them a dessert.

By this time in our lives, no longer are chocolate chips and brownies considered to be the measure of success. Instead we turn to other desserts, more sophisticated, more complicated, more daring. We turn to soufflés.

Chocolate Caramel Soufflé

This is the kind of recipe that you only stumble upon every few years. The kind that redefines what decadence means to you. The kind that will make you realize that you are, without a doubt, the classiest, most talented chef in this kitchen. It’s rich, it’s smooth, and it’s damn impressive. Have at it.

1/3 cup of sugar, plus at least another 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 tablespoon of butter, melted
1/2 cup of chocolate (this can be fancy, expensive European chocolate or plain old Nestlé chips)
3 egg yolks
6 egg whites (I know, I know, extra egg yolks)
Caramel sauce

Note: To really and truly make soufflés, you must have ramekins (four to six). These are tiny, ceramic dishes that will yield the most beautiful, airy soufflés you have ever seen. You owe it to yourself to have a set anyway, so just suck it up and buy some.

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2) Time to coat the ramekins: Swab them with butter, then put some sugar inside of them and shake them around to cover them entirely in both butter and sugar. I know it seems stupid, but actually, it’s not. The mix will guarantee that the soufflés rise evenly and smoothly, thus creating perfect soufflés.

3) Melt your chocolate. Do not do this by sticking it in a microwave. Instead, try a double boiler technique: Start by boiling some water in a pan. Put the chocolate into a glass bowl, then hold the bowl above the boiling water until the chocolate starts to melt. From there, stir until the chocolate is liquidy and smooth.

4) Remove the chocolate from the heat and then stir in the egg yolks. Set aside.

5) Beat the egg whites in a mixer until they start to form peaks (a fancy way of saying that their texture starts to change). This will literally feel like it is taking forever. Just stay calm. Start adding the 1/3 cup of sugar slowly, a little bit at a time, until stiff peaks are formed. This will look like meringue.

6) Pour the chocolate mixture slowly into the egg whites. Fold it in gently.

7) Distribute the mixture among the ramekins. Before you bake them, run your finger over the edge. They’ll rise better if you smooth out the top.

8) Bake them for about 25 minutes, or until they’ve risen but are still wiggly in the center.

9) Let them cool, then take a spoon and carve a little out of the center. Pour some caramel sauce into the center and then put the cap back on.

10) Consume, then die of self-appreciation.