Apple soufflé with white chocolate parfait

I spend more time reading food blogs now that I have a food blog. Inevitable perhaps, but I’ve certainly learned some new things to do with favourite ingredients and I’ve got some good tips for restaurants to try (and others to steer clear of). It’s a nice way to while away some time.

So equally inevitably I’ve stumbled onto “round-ups”, whereby a blogger asks for recipes on a theme and then summarises them on their own blog, with links. Good publicity for them, good publicity for all the entrants. It’s something I could easily get hooked on. “We Should Cocoa” is a monthly round-up of recipes pairing chocolate (obviously) with another ingredient. This month the round-up is hosted by Chocolate Log Blog and the ingredient is… apples. Which if you think about it are one fruit not commonly paired with chocolate. That got me thinking.

Attempt #1: Apple tempura with a chocolate and sake dipping sauce

Well, this didn’t quite work out. Nothing disastrous, and we enjoyed eating it, but it’s not a recipe worthy of offering up. Apples just don’t seem cut out for tempura: the slightly softened texture they have after a quick deep-frying is a little unappealing in batter. On top of that, although the batter was light and I made the chocolate sauce deliberately thin, dipping batter in chocolate is a very rich experience. Almost Scottish, dare I say.

On the positive side, I dipped some roughly torn pieces of a good cooked ham into the spare batter and can confirm that tempura ham is delicious. Big thumbs-up, better than tempura prawns in fact. And also the combination of sake and chocolate is a winning one, worthy of further investigation. It’s something about the nutty rice notes in the wine that play so well with dark chocolate.

Attempt #2: Apple soufflé with white chocolate parfait
Okay, less experimental. I love making soufflés, they’re easy and impressive and can be flavoured with anything. With no ice cream maker the only challenge was finding a frozen chocolate accompaniment that doesn’t require the hassle of stirring it regularly while it freezes. So: this was pronounced delicious by everyone and is my entry to ‘We Should Cocoa’ this month.

For the parfait
100g white chocolate
340ml double cream
60ml water
80g caster sugar
4 large eggs yolks
For the soufflés
1 1/2 cooking apples
2 dessert spoons sugar
Juice of half a lemon
2 star anise
1 inch root ginger, roughly chopped
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 dessert spoon of calvados
3 large eggs
1 dessert spoon caster sugar

The parfait is taken from a recipe by James Perry, and you’ll have plenty spare. The soufflé recipe makes 4.

  1. To make the parfait, melt the chocolate in a bowl set over simmering water. Meanwhile whip the cream to the soft peak stage and set aside. Bring the water and sugar to the boil in a small pan until the sugar has dissolved – you want a syrup only, not caramel. Whisk the egg yolks until pale and thickened then pour in the hot sugar syrup and continue to whisk for one minute. Whisk the melted chocolate into this mixture, then quickly fold in the whipped cream. Pour into a tub and freeze for a couple of hours.
  2. Macerate the apples by putting them in a pan with the lemon juice, calvados and two dessert spoons of sugar. Add the cinnamon, ginger and star anise then mix together. Leave for an hour.
  3. Now bring the apples to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes or so until well broken down. Push them through a sieve to make pureé. Taste it for sweetness, add a little more sugar if needed.
  4. Separate the three eggs. Beat the yolks, then add half the apple pureé and beat. Divide the rest of the apple pureé between four ramekins, to form a base.
  5. Whisk the whites to stiff peaks. Add a dessert spoon of caster sugar and whisk for another minute. Put a big dessert spoon of the whites into the yolk mix and stir together to loosen it. Now add the rest of the whites and fold together without over-mixing, as this will lose the air. Better to have it slightly unmixed than a flat soufflé.
  6. Fill the ramekins with the mixture, be as neat or scruffy as you like with the top. Put them on a baking tray in the oven at 170C for 15 minutes or until they’re fully risen and nicely browned on top.
  7. Dust with icing sugar, then at the table top each soufflé with a quenelle of parfait. Poke a hole in the top first and the parfait should sink into the soufflé and melt. You can serve another quenelle of parfait on the side too.

A couple of chef-y notes on this…

  • Firstly, the best way I’ve found to get good steep ‘walls’ on risen soufflés is to butter the inside of the ramekins and then swirl caster sugar around in them to get a coating. The egg whites shy away from this and so rise vertically. I know it works, because this time I lazily didn’t do it and they didn’t rise so well!
  • The crumb on the parfait in the photo is a praline. I toasted hazelnuts for 15 minutes at 150C then rubbed the skins off, then gently cooked a couple of tbsp caster sugar in a small pan until it melted and was golden caramel, then added the hazelnuts, then poured it onto greaseproof paper to cool, then whizzed in a food processor to crumbs. It was very, very tasty but hid the white chocolate flavour a bit so I’ve left it out of the recipe.
  • I don’t know how to make quenelles! Lots of playing around with two spoons while the parfait started melting. It sorta worked. I think practise is probably key.

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