Last night, my husband took over the kitchen for our New Year’s Eve dinner. He spent all of Wednesday making a vat of tomato sauce and used some of it yesterday to make baked pasta with sausage and mozzarella, his signature dish. (The rest we bagged and froze in case of a post-apocalyptic event.)
I put together a simple Italian-style salad to go with it: romaine, diced red onion, shaved Parmesan, capers and a creamy Italian-garlic vinaigrette. (Hint: To make any vinaigrette creamy, substitute 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream for some of the oil.) I got this nifty salad dressing mixing/storage bottle for Christmas that I was able to try out. You just put the ingredients in and use a pump handle to mix the dressing right before you pour it. Works really well. Here’s a picture of it.
We don’t eat dessert very often around these parts, so I like to make a dessert on holidays and special occasions. Yesterday I wanted something light and easy, so I tried a chocolate souffle recipe I clipped some time ago from the New York Times. It was designed to serve 2, which I like in dessert recipes because then there are no tempting leftovers; we only ended up eating about half of it, though, and this morning I am putting leftover whipped cream in my coffee — so much for that thought. Anyway, it was very light and easy, pretty much a chocolate mousse that you bake, perfect with some champagne after a heavy meal. Next time I will use the smaller ramekins for baking so as to achieve a more dramatic puffing effect. Here’s the recipe.
Time to make: ~1 hour
- two 2-cup or one 4-cup souffle dish
- butter and sugar for the dish
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate
- pinch salt
- ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp. sugar
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter the souffle dish (or use butter-flavored Pam, like I did). Sprinkle the inside with sugar, then invert and tap the bottom to remove the excess.
Chop up the chocolate. Melt it over low or in a double boiler, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula.
Separate the eggs. Set aside 1 tbsp. of sugar from the 1/3 cup. Beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until very light and thick. The mixture will fall from the beaters in a ribber when it is ready. Stir in the chocolate until well combined. Set aside.
Wash and dry the beaters. Beat the egg whites with the salt and cream of tartar until they hold soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining tablespoon of sugar while continuing to beat until very stiff and glossy. Stir a spoonful of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten in. Folk in the remaining whites using a rubber spatula. Transfer to the prepared souffle dishes. (Note: At this point, you can refrigerate, covered, for several hours, at which point you will have chocolate mousse.)
Bake until the center is nearly set, 20 minutes for individual ramekins and up to 35 minutes for a larger souffle dish. In the meantime, wash the beaters yet one more. Pour the whipping cream into a chilled bowl and beat until it holds soft peaks, adding the final tablespoon of sugar halfway through. Serve the souffles topped with some whipped cream.