Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Key Lime-Ginger Soufflé Thing Revisited

I tried again with the key limes, and it turned out pretty good this time. I'm actually never quite satisfied with a recipe until I've tried mixing up every variable, approaching it from every angle. But that's just the insatiable perfectionist in me (who is constantly butting heads with the non-perfectionist in me that despises pesky little details, like measuring ingredients).

Channeling the mindset of Emily Luchetti, dessert guru, and Anne Cori, my boss from working at Kitchen Conservatory who taught me about the art of soufflés, I decided to hold my breath and dive in.

Recipe for Key Lime-Ginger Soufflés:

  • Zest of key limes (about 1 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp key lime juice
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Ginger (potent stuff - go with about 1/4 tsp)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Ginger snap cookies (homemade, or store-bought in my case... I'm such a cheater)

You also need:

  • Individual ramekins (I have 6 oz because like dessert, but 4 oz is common).
  • A shallow roasting or cake pan filled with about 1/4" of water.
  • Tools to whip. Whisks are key. Handheld mixer is nice. Stand mixer = you rule the whites and your whipping-arm loves you.
  • Bowls to hold whippings.

Start by preheating the oven to 400 and bringing a small pot of water to a gentle low simmer on the stove. Butter the inside bottom of your ramekins, and sprinkle a very thin layer of finely crumbled gingersnap cookie so that the bottom is just covered. In a bowl, hovering over the simmering water, whisk the yolks, then add most of the sugar, the ginger, and the key lime zest and juice, and whip until thick and pale yellow in color. Be careful not to scramble the egg - if it starts to thicken too fast or curdle, whip it off the heat. When the yolk falls off your whisk in smooth ribbons, remove it from heat. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks have formed, then add the remainder of the sugar and pinch of salt. Continue to beat the egg whites until stiff peaks hold their own, but the whites still look glossy. Gradually fold the yolk mixture into the whites, and pour into the ramekins, filling up almost to the top. Place the soufflés onto the pan, and adjust accordingly so that the water bath comes about 1/2-1" up the side of the ramekins. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until the soufflés are puffy and golden. You can peek, it's ok. Serve with the ginger cookies.

When I started whipping the green zest with the pale yellow beaten egg yolks, I thought out loud, "Wow, this is looking really ugly." I whipped on, undaunted. Hungry. Despite the evidence to the contrary, the finished product looked quite nice. It could have passed for any other citrus-flavored souffle, up until the moment I took a bite. The lime was tart and the ginger made it interesting. It really does need to be served and eaten right away. I couldn't even snap a decent picture before my lovely puff started to fall. I stuck a ginger cookie in the top and tried to make it pretty. As Anne Cori says, quoting the French, "The soufflé waits for no one."

Update: I probably should make a quick disclaimer (thanks Anne, for pointing this out! As I mentioned, she does know her stuff on soufflés). You typically do not need a water bath when baking soufflés. I used one because I was having trouble getting the bottoms of my test soufflés to cook, which I think is due to my not having a convection oven. Convection allows the heat to evenly distribute.


Kat said...

Please remind me why we ate out while visiting you in NY last month??? these recipes look amazing. I need some Vron goodness!!

Veronica said...

Thanks Kat! Hopefully you can come back with Q sometime soon. I'm really bummed I didn't know about Kee's Chocolates when you and Nat were here. We'll have to stop there, too.

Anne said...

Thanks for the plug! Now, make you life easier: you don't need a water bath to bake souffles. Custards need a water bath, but not souffles. I just wrote an article for Sauce Magazine on chocolate souffle: http://www.saucemagazine.com/article/16