Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dinner Party Vanilla Bean Souffle

2 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split
3/4 cup plus 2 T all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for the molds
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg white
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
powdered sugar for garnish

Butter and sugar 6 8-ounce ceramic souffle molds, all the way to the top and over the lip. Refrigerate.

Prepare an ice bath and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over high heat. Steep for 1 hour off the heat. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds into the milk. Rinse and dry the vanilla bean for another use - I keep a separate cannister for vanilla granulated sugar.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, 1/3 cup of the sugar and salt. Add 1/2 cup of the vanilla bean and milk mixture and mix to a smooth paste. Return the paste to the saucepan with the rest of the vanilla beaned milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until the mixture just begins to boil, is thick, and has the consistency of oatmeal, about 5-8 minutes, making sure to stir/whisk the bottom and corners of the saucepan. If the mixture gets lumpy, turn off the heat and whisk until it becomes smooth again. Resume cooking over the heat.

Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolks and vanilla extract. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing down onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Place the bowl in the ice bath, and when the mixture has cooled, refrigerate.

One hour before serving, preheat oven to 375 degrees F and remove the egg yolk mixture from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

With an electric mixer, whip 5 egg whites and cream of tartar in a bowl until they just begin to foam. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and gradually increase the speed until it is high. Continue whipping until the eggs whites are stiff and shiny.

Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, one third at a time.

Spoon into the prepared molds, gently tapping on the bottom. Place the molds in the middle of the oven and bake about 16-20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the sides are sponge-like.

Dust powdered sugar over the top and serve immediately.

T O F I N I S H A N D A S S E M B L E:

Place individual souffles on dessert plates.

Using 2 dessert spoons back to back, open the top of the souffle and slide a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream into the crevasse.

Serve with pitcher(s) of vanilla anglaise for pouring over the souffle.

Garnish with a tuille.

Serves 6


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