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Top Pick Of The Week

May 1, 2007

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Chocolate SouffleOur favorite is Chocolate Mint, but it’s so easy to store these soufflés in the freezer, that you can “take orders” from guests and serve each person his or her favorite flavor.
WHAT IT IS: Individual-size frozen soufflés, in four flavors, sold in 2-packs, certified kosher.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: The first frozen dessert soufflés we know of, all natural and made with top-quality ingredients.
WHY WE LOVE IT: No need to wait for a special occasion restaurant visit to enjoy a heavenly soufflé (or to take the better part of two hours to prepare and cook one from scratch). It’s so easy to thrill friends, family and self with these.
WHERE TO BUY IT: HeavenlySouffle.com.
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Heavenly Soufflé:
Celestial Dessert

Your first reaction is: This is so good and so easy, why didn’t anyone invent an oven-ready dessert soufflé before? Heavenly Soufflé is a new product—it hasn’t even been to its first trade show yet—and it promises to be a big hit.

Here’s what you get: a box of two 3" ramekins, individual soufflés in Chocolate, Chocolate Mint, Orange or Raspberry. They keep in the freezer until you’re ready to bake them: In 20 minutes you have perfect, airy soufflés, ideal for special dinners, romantic evenings, celebrations, comfort food or general indulgence. The ceramic ramekins are reusable: We serve nuts, olives and other nibbles in them and use them for a variety of sides and intermezzos at the dinner table.

But why focus on the dishes when there are such delicious soufflés to be enjoyed—to serve, to send as gifts or just to keep in the freezer for when you’re in a deserving mood. You no longer have to leave home when you feel the need for something special. The soufflés are certified kosher by Orthodox Kashruth Supervision Services. Read the full review below. (If your e-mail client does not support anchor links, scroll down.)

THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.

 

Books Of Easy Desserts

Ice Cream Treats Dessert Circus At Home Easy Cakes
Ice Cream Treats: Easy Ways to Transform Your Favorite Ice Cream into Spectacular Desserts, by Charity Ferreira. Even beginners can create delicious pies and tarts, using the four basic recipes upon which all other pies and tarts are based. Click here for more information or to purchase. Dessert Circus at Home: Fun, Fanciful, And Easy-To-Make Desserts, by Jacques Torres. Even if your pastry skills are elementary, Torres leads you through recipes step-by step. His mouth-watering recipes are certain to please. Click here for more information or to purchase. Easy Cakes, by Linda Collister. The Queen of Cakes provides the easiest recipes for the most delicious cakes you’ll ever taste, made with a hand-held beater. From layer cakes to pound cakes to tray cakes, you won’t know which to make first. Click here for more information or to purchase.

Heavenly Soufflé: Celestial Dessert

INDEX OF REVIEW

MORE TO DISCOVER

For two years of graduate school, most nights when the library closed at 11 p.m., we would go home and make a soufflé. So we know of what we speak when we say that it’s a task for people who love to bake: the separating of eggs, melting of chocolate or juicing of lemons or puréeing of raspberries, the whisking, buttering and sugaring the dish, the tying of collars around large soufflé dishes to get a perfect shape, and then making crème anglaise while waiting 30 minutes or more for the masterpiece to puff up. And all that clean-up! We guess that most soufflières (we just coined that one), no matter how comfortable they are whipping them up at home, like to order a soufflé when they see them on a restaurant menu, just to let the other guy or gal do the work. And it reminds us why we no longer make soufflés for our dinner guests: because we finally learned to prepare menus that let us spend time with our guests.

Souffle BoxThat’s why we were so thrilled when Heavenly Soufflé arrived by FedEx, frozen in a cute thermal tote with ice packs. The bright boxes with tempting photos of soufflés made us race to turn on the oven: If Chocolate Soufflé isn’t a legitimate brunch food, at least the Orange and Raspberry flavors count as fruit. Twenty minutes later, hot soufflés emerged from the oven, looking and tasting every bit as good as the photos promise.

The History Of The Soufflé

The word soufflé is the past participle of the French verb souffler, “to puff up”—which is exactly what happens when the combination of a flavored egg custard base and beaten egg whites is baked into an airy, spongy, quasi-moist, quasi-cakey concoction, just firm enough to hold its shape. While a soufflé can be baked in a variety of containers, fluted soufflé dishes or individual ramekins have become traditional over the years.

Soufflés can be savory and served as a main dish or sweetened as a dessert. There are dessert “frozen soufflés,” but the chemistry is different—dense, frozen cream provides the shape, not fluffy, beaten egg whites. A hot soufflé puffs up to an impressive height because of the bubbles of hot air trapped in the batter. As the soufflé cools, the hot air contracts and the soufflé deflates or “falls.” That’s why a soufflé needs to be served immediately to impress with its full majesty; although fallen soufflés are less airy, they taste just fine.

According to the Oxford Companion to Food, custards, puddings and pies have been made since Medieval times and Renaissance European cooks used whisked egg whites—a critical component of the soufflé—in a variety dishes. But it was not until the 17th century that chefs perfected meringue, a technique that then enabled them to develop the soufflé.

While the majority of today’s soufflés have a custard base (egg yolks combined with the flavor element), the hot soufflé had as its starting point a roux (a cooked mixture of flour and butter), and modern recipes can still be found with a flour base. This type of soufflé was invented in France in the late 18th century. The great chef and restaurateur Antoine Beauvilliers, who opened the first “real” restaurant* in Paris in 1782 was possibly serving soufflés at that date; his L’Art du Cuisinier, published in 1814, includes recipes.

*It is frequently cited that the first restaurant in Paris was opened in 1765 by a soup maker named Boulanger. It is true that his was the first establishment to offer a menu with a choice of dishes, and he may have been the first to use the term “restaurant” to describe his establishment. But Beauvilliers’ restaurant, La Grande Taverne de Londres, was, as the famous gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said, “the first to combine the four essentials of an elegant room, smart waiters, a choice cellar, and superior cooking.” It was an immediate success and Beauvilliers, according to Brillat-Savarin, “was for more than fifteen years the most famous restaurateur in Paris.” From Horizon Cookbook and Illustrated History of Eating and Drinking Through the Ages, William Harlan Hale [American Heritage] 1968 (p. 713).

According to FoodReference.com, the word soufflé first appeared in English in Louis-Eustache Ude’s The French Cook in 1813, and by 1845 was so commonly accepted that in Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery in 1845, a recipe for soufflé was included as just another recipe. In 1841, Marie Antoine Carême, the founder and architect of French haute cuisine, published Patissier Royal Parisien with so much detail on the technique of making soufflés, that it is clear that cooks had been having trouble with soufflés that collapsed. Those recipes show that modern tastes parallel older ones, with chocolate, vanilla, lemon and orange flower water (replaced today by orange liqueurs like Grand Marnier) as favorite sweet flavors, and cheese soufflé a popular savory flavor. As one writer noted in 1828, “It will be sufficient to observe on the subject of soufflés that they are all made in the same manner, and that they vary only in the taste you give them.”
Raspberry Souffle
Heavenly Soufflé’s Raspberry Soufflé.

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The Heavenly Soufflé Flavors

Heavenly Soufflés bring a smile to the face the moment they appear. Piping hot from the oven, they look and taste like they were made from scratch by your own hands: Bury the packaging deep enough in the trash and no one will think to raise the question.

Pumpkin Souffle
Pumpkin Soufflé, a seasonal specialty.
  • Chocolate Soufflé is made with 55% cacao Belgian chocolate from Belcolade, a producer of fine couverture chocolate for patissiers and chocolatiers. Fifty percent is the “demarcation line” between milk chocolate and semisweet, so 55% is still a fairly sweet chocolate soufflé, sure to be a crowd pleaser.
  • Chocolate Mint Soufflé is a mix of the 55% with the far more serious 72% bittersweet. The mint flavor is a perfect contrast against the chocolate—it’s our favorite flavor (though we acknowledge a preference for mint and chocolate).
  • Raspberry Soufflé tastes of fresh raspberries, and in fact is made with a fresh raspberry purée.
  • Soufflé à l’Orange is made with GranGala, an Italian triple orange liqueur that has more orange flavor (and often higher professional ratings) than the better-known Grand Marnier.

More flavors are in development. The recipes are all-natural, and all of the flavors are gluten-free except for Raspberry.

The frozen soufflés will last up to nine months in the freezer, and can be made in a regular or convection oven (but not in a toaster oven or a microwave). Once thawed, they can be refrigerated for four days before baking. If you have leftover cooked soufflés, they are delicious the next day, cooked or warmed in the microwave. They won’t rise again, but top them with berries, whipped cream or ice cream before serving and no one will notice.

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WHAT EXACTLY IS CUSTARD?
What does the custard you eat with a spoon have to do with the custard base of a soufflé and the crème anglaise often poured on top of it? Read our Custard Glossary.

Sauces & Serving Suggestions

You can serve the soufflés as is, but a bit of sauce or garnish makes for absolute perfection. The “original” dessert sauce for soufflés was a basic vanilla custard sauce:

Chocolate Souffle With Raspberries
Garnish soufflés with a few raspberries, a mint leaf
and a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.
 

Crème Anglaise

French for “English custard,” crème anglaise is a rich, pourable custard sauce that can be served hot or cold over cake, fruit or other desserts. Made with eggs, sugar and milk or cream, it is stirred over heat until it thickens into a light sauce. However, it’s a delicate operation: Too much heat scrambles the eggs before the custard forms. Vanilla is the basic flavoring, but coffee, chocolate, fruit purées, zest or liqueurs can be added.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups light cream or half and half,
    depending on desired richness
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 2
    teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sugar
    (Some recipes use more sugar but for this
    purpose, there is enough sugar in the
    soufflé itself)
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • Add For Flavored Crème Anglaise:
    Chocolate: 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
    Coffee: 1 teaspoon instant coffee and 1 tablespoon coarsely ground fresh coffee or espresso beans
    Herb (basil, cardamom, lavender): Crush 2 tablespoons and add to cream, straining out at Step 4 below
    Liqueur: 2 tablespoons orange, raspberry or other liqueur (don’t add until Step 4]
    Citrus (lemon, Meyer lemon, orange, blood orange): 1/3 cup freshly-squeezed juice plus 1 teaspoon zest)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until well blended.
  2. In a small saucepan heat the cream and vanilla bean (if using an extract, see Step 5) to just below the boiling point. Remove from the heat and whisk in a few tablespoons into the yolk mixture. Gradually add the remaining cream, whisking constantly.
  3. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and gently heat over a medium flame to just below the boiling point, about 5 to 8 minutes, whisking constantly until it reaches 170°F to 175°F or coats the back of a spoon. The mixture will be slightly thicker than heavy cream.  Do not boil or the eggs will curdle. (If they curdle, immediately process in a blender until smooth, then strain. Add some additional cream if necessary.)
  4. Remove from the heat and strain, scraping up any thickened cream that settles on the bottom of the pan. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the sauce. Stir until the seeds separate. For maximum flavor, return the pod to the sauce until serving time. (If you are using pure vanilla extract, instead of the vanilla bean, or coffee, add it to the cream now.)
  5. The crème anglaise can be refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming, for 2 to 3 days.

Makes about 2 cups.

Infused Crème Anglaise: Earl Grey Sauce

This recipe, courtesy of Bigelow Tea, complements the Orange or Chocolate Soufflés. It’s an Earl Grey-flavored crème anglaise. You can adapt the recipe to infuse cinnamon sticks, fresh mint, lavender†, orange peel, cardamom or other spices or herbs that appeal to you, and vary the vanilla extractr with other liqueurs.

†Be sure to use culinary lavender, which has not been sprayed with pesticides.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 Earl Grey tea bags
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Add the cream to saucepan and bring to a simmer; add the tea bags and infuse the cream for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and remove saucepan from heat.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks with sugar in a bowl. Very slowly add the infused cream in a steady stream.
  3. Return to the stove and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly until the custard is slightly thickened and registers 175ºF on a thermometer. Do not let it boil: The eggs will curdle.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Other Garnishes

If you’re not using a sauce, start with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar and a few berries, as shown in the photo above (you can serve the berries on the side instead of on top of the soufflé).

  • Whipped cream: Try flavored whipped cream with Chocolate Soufflé. Infuse the cream before whipping with cardamom, cinnamon sticks, culinary lavender, Earl Grey tea, mint or other favorite flavors. Let the herb or spice infuse in the cream for four hours or overnight.
  • Ice cream: When pairing ice cream with soufflés, keep the flavors simple: vanilla or coffee with the plain chocolate; vanilla, raspberry or blackberry with the fruit flavors. Soufflés are better paired with creaminess: While a plain fruit sauce works well, sorbet doesn’t.

Grand Marnier SouffleDress up the soufflé as much as you like. Here, a heart made of cocoa powder says, “I love you,” and a
fan cookie adds some crunch.

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  • Raspberry or Mango Purée: We have had soufflés with all manner of fruit purées, but these two flavors work the best. For raspberry sauce, purée fresh or frozen raspberries, add sugar and raspberry liqueur (framboise) or orange liqueur (e.g. Grand Marnier or Cointreau) to taste. For mango sauce, purée two ripe mangoes with 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of orange liqueur if desired.

Tricks

  • For a mock crème anglaise, melt vanilla Häagen-Dazs in the refrigerator or on the countertop. It’s made with an egg custard base, so it provides an eggy sauce. No one will guess it’s melted ice cream.
  • For Soufflé à l’Orange, make a sauce of orange marmalade, thinned with orange juice and flavored with orange liqueur to taste.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SAUCE, A SYRUP & A CURD?
They’re all dessert toppings. It’s a quick read to learn the differences among them in our
Glossary of Dessert Sauces & Toppings
.

Don’t you wish you had a Heavenly Soufflé in front of you right now? Order today, and tomorrow it will arrive on your doorstep. You don’t have to wait until you get to heaven for your reward.

—Karen Hochman

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to anyone who loves soufflés and easy dessert solutions.

HEAVENLY SOUFFLÉ

Chocolate, Chocolate Mint, Pumpkin (seasonal), Raspberry and Soufflé à l’Orange (coming soon)

Certified Kosher by Orthodox Kashruth
Supervision Services

  • Two Individual Soufflés In 3"
    Ceramic Ramekins

    $9.00
  • Telephone for discounts on 12 boxes
    or more (24 individual soufflés)

Purchase online at HeavenlySouffle.com
or telephone 1.866.892.1096.

Also available at select specialty food stores: There’s a store locator on the website. As of this writing, most stores are in the Metro New York Area, but the company is in discussion with retailers nationwide.

Shipping additional. Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.

Chocolate Souffle
Chocolate Soufflé.

 

 

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