Hot Chocolate Souffles with Rum

Contrary to popular belief, little chocolate soufflés are easy to make.  You can start preparing them before you begin your meal and finish them off while the main course is being cleared away.

Serves:  4-6;   Time:  30 mins

Ingredients:  15g (½ oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature; 6 tbsp caster sugar; 225ml (8 fl oz) milk; 100g (3 ½ oz) dark chocolate; 5 medium eggs; 3 tbsp cornflour; 2 tbsp double cream; 3 tbsp rum; 1 tbsp icing sugar, for sifting

  • Carefully butter the insides and rims of four 200ml (7 fl oz) or six 150ml (5 fl oz) souffle dishes, then coat them evenly with 2 tablespoons of the caster sugar.  Pour the milk into a small saucepan and set it over a moderate heat.  Break the chocolate into small pieces and stir it into the milk.  As soon as the milk reaches scalding point, remove from the heat, cover and leave to stand for 2-3 minutes, until the chocolate has melted.
  • Meanwhile, separate the eggs, put the whites into a large, dry bowl and set aside.   Put 3 egg yolks into a small bowl – the other two are not needed and can be kept for another recipe.
  • Add 3 tblsp of the caster sugar to the cornflour in a large pan, and over a low heat gradually whisk in the chocolate milk to form a smooth paste.  Then increase the heat, beating continuously, until the sauce boils and becomes stiff.
  • Remove from the heat and beat in the cream, rum and egg yolks.  Scrape the mixture from the sides of the pan with a spatula and cover it with the lid to prevent a skin forming, then set aside.
  • Before you begin your meal, preheat the oven to 230oC (450oF, Gas mark 8).  Put a baking tray with a raised edge into the oven to heat.  When the main course is over, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks (an electric beater is quickest).  Add the remaining caster sugar and whisk again until the whites are stiff and shiny.
  • Fold a large spoonful of the egg white into the chocolate sauce, then gently fold in all the remaining egg white.  Spoon the mixture into the souffle dishes and put them onto the baking tray in the oven.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until well risen and lightly set, with soft, gooey centres.  Remove them from the oven, sift icing sugar over them and serve immediately.
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