WARM AND WONDERFUL: INDIVIDUAL CHOCOLATE SOUFFLÉS ARE EASY TO MASTER

Soufflés always intimidate, but they are not difficult. These individual chocolate soufflés are fluffy, delightful bites of chocolate heaven. And so easy! They will be a favorite... serve them warm out of the oven with just a drizzle of heavy cream... or ice cream, or whiskey sauce, or whatever you have around.

recipe for individual chocolate souffles Martie Duncan

INDIVIDUAL CHOCOLATE SOUFFLÉS

Prep Time: 20 minutes    Cook Time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon cocoa

1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for the ramekins

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely

3 large egg yolks, room temperature

6 large egg whites, room temperature

1/16 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter four oven-proof ramekins. Combine the cocoa and 2 tablespoons sugar. Dust the ramekins with the cocoa and sugar mixture. Set aside.

Carefully melt the chocolate in a heat-proof glass bowl over simmering water. Chocolate burns quickly so don't leave it unattended. Stir until just melted then remove the chocolate from the heat. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, gently whisking them together with the chocolate. Set aside.  

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with salt on medium speed until they are shiny and form soft peaks. Then turn the mixer on high and add the sugar, a little at a time until the egg whites will hold stiff shiny peaks.

Next, begin to incorporate the egg whites into the chocolate. This is an important step. You do not want to deflate the egg whites, but you do need to make sure there are no visible whites peeking through. Use a large spoon, spatula, or whisk; work gently. Add about a cup of the egg whites to the chocolate to smooth out the chocolate a bit. Then add the rest, 1/3 at a time, spooning up and over, very gently, to incorporate. It should be very light and fluffy, but make sure you have no threads of white peeking through the chocolate.

Spoon into the prepared ramekins- leaving about 1/2 inch at the top. Bake for 15 minutes or you can bake up to 18 minutes to make them more cake-like.

You can let these sit for up to 30 minutes before baking or you can bake them immediately. Makes 4.

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RECIPE: POTATO AND ONION GRATIN; COMFORT FOOD TO FEED A FEW OR A CROWD

I love recipes that can feed a few folks or easily expand to feed an army on the cheap. Well, this is one of those dishes, it is comforting, delicious, so easy to make... best of all, it's so affordable, you can feed a huge crowd for not very much money. Yes, Parmegano-Reggiano is expensive so substitute something else if you must. This is really one of those recipes you will go to time and again. You remember how Bob Tuschman, the head honcho at Food Network said my food was like hot cocoa and warm flannel pajamas? Well, this dish is just that. Get ready to blow the diet; you might eat the whole thing!

Easy and affordable, a potato and onion gratin can feed a few people or a huge crowd!

Easy and affordable, a potato and onion gratin can feed a few people or a huge crowd!

POTATO AND ONION GRATIN

Serves 6   Prep: 15

Bake: 1 hour

 INGREDIENTS

3-4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/4 inch thick

1 medium yellow onion, sliced extremely thin

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus 2 tablespoons for the top

3 tablespoons grated Gruyere cheese or any other cheese that melts nicely

1 cups heavy cream

½ cup milk (use low fat or whole, it doesn’t matter. I use 2%)

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350° F

Slice the potatoes and rinse. Keep them in water until you assemble the dish. Mix the salt, pepper, and nutmeg together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Liberally grease the bottom of a 12-inch casserole or gratin dish with the butter.

Drain the potatoes. Blot excess moisture with a paper towel. Arrange a layer of potatoes, overlapping them slightly on the bottom of the dish. Season with thesalt and pepper mixture. Add a very thin layer of onion, do not overlap. Add half of the cheese. Add another layer of potatoes. Season each potato layer with the salt mixture. Add the remaining cheese on top. There should be at least three layers, ending with the cheese on top. You may have more, depending on the size of the dish you used.

Carefully pour the heavy cream into the dish, taking care not to pour on the top of the cheese so that it goes down into the bottom of the dish.

Bake for 1 hour or until the potatoes are very soft, the milk is absorbed and the top is golden brown and delicious. It tastes best if allowed to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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RECIPE: ONE BITE PARTY APPETIZER GOUGERES AKA CHEESE PUFFS

There are lots of easy appetizers I have in my arsenal of recipes but this one is one of my favorites... Gougères, the fancy French name for cheese puffs, are simple to make and you can freeze them and reheat them later so that makes them perfect party food in my book. Based on a classic French recipe for cream puffs but without the sugar, this base recipe can be used for all sorts of things: make them a bit larger, slice in half and use as a bun for a tea sandwich, for example. With sugar, it becomes a cream puff when you fill it with custard. Perfect for just about any menu- make a ton and freeze some for later... they are best served warm. Change up the cheese as you like; the traditional method uses Comte or Gruyere. I like adding a bit of Parmesan, too. I often just use scraps of whatever cheese I have around that need to be used. Addictive!

These are so easy and so delicious... Classic Cheese Puffs are always a hit.

These are so easy and so delicious... Classic Cheese Puffs are always a hit.

GOUGERES (CHEESE PUFFS)

INGREDIENTS

11/2 cups water

1 stick unsalted butter, cubed

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

6 large eggs, beaten

1 1/4 cups shredded white Cheddar cheese (or use Gruyere for the traditionalist)

pinch cayenne pepper

1- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus 1 teaspoon for tops

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

Put the water into a large pan over high heat. Add the butter and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat. Add the flour all at once, stirring until the mixture becomes a smooth, thick paste with no lumps. Add in the beaten eggs, a little at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition until incorporated and the dough is not slippery.

Stir in cayenne, black pepper, and the cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Put the dough in a pastry bag or a ziptop bag and push it down into the corner. Snip the end.   

Pipe the dough into 2" mounds. Use a bit of water on your finger to tap down the top slightly so the tip won't burn. Sprinkle the top of each with the remaining sea salt. Bake at 400 for about 25-30 minutes or until dry and golden brown. Baking time is determined by how large you pipe the rounds. Check one by pulling it apart to make sure the inside is not still doughy.

Remove from the oven and pierce each puff to allow the steam to escape. Serve warm.

Leave off the cheese and you can make these to stuff with all sorts of goodies. Chicken salad comes to mind.....

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