Tuesday, February 14, 2006

V-Day Soufflé

I'm really not much of a baker. But Margy requested a lemon soufflé for Valentine's Day (I'd asked what she wanted). Who am I to refuse?

This was my third soufflé attempt, and my first in two years. It was also my least successful. Thank goodness the soufflés were still edible, because I made a tragic mistake early on: When separating egg yolks from whites, I carelessly allowed a tiny speck of yolk to corrupt the whites, which made those wonderful "stiff peaks" impossible to achieve. I should have started over, but I was out of eggs, and my main course was waiting in the wings while Margy cruised home for V-Day dinner. So I soldiered on.

Anyway, Margy is a most forgiving audience. Of course, I plied her with chilled chardonnay and pan-roasted red snapper fillets with rock shrimp sauce, so it's not like she was going to starve. But that damn soufflé thing was stressful regardless. I feel cursed by the beginner's luck that seemed to guide my hand the first time around.

The practical upshot of my clumsy egg manipulation was this: I mixed and mixed, and yet the whites would not fully stiffen. (Did I mention it was one drop of yolk that caused all this?) As I shrugged and suggested I get in the car to see if the store was still open, Margy gave me a don't even think about it look. The oven was preheated, the dinner dishes were cleared, and it was time for dessert. I folded the disgraced whites into the yolk-butter-flour-sugar-lemon base and hoped for the best. In the end the soufflés did rise, just not enough, and they didn't brown up well. The inside was a bit too moist, but we've certainly had worse desserts. I would have taken a chance and baked them longer, but they had already exceeded my time guidelines, and, dammit, something about messing with a dessert recipe scares me. It was still a pretty good Valentine's Day. I cannot complain.

Now this is a soufflé.

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