This blog is posted for Valentine’s Day. Making a romantic dinner? A light last course is always to be recommended, You also want something that shows you’ve made an effort. Soufflés aren’t as frightening as you might think, once you’ve made one or two. With a larger unruly dinner party, the timing can be an issue: with an intimate diner à deux you have, or should have, a captive audience. You can also do the preparation a couple of hours in advance – but get them to the table immediately they are done.
Claire Macdonald, who can always be relied upon to be a little different, but invariably reliable, suggests the little bit of ground almond. Lady Claire’s little idiosyncracies never let one down. Obviously, in place of Grand Marnier, you can use Cointreau or any other orange based liqueur. If you don’t want to use booze, substitute orange juice. Nice served with some ice cream.
Grand Marnier Soufflé
Ingredients (makes 6 individual large ramekin soufflés)
Softened unsalted butter to grease the ramekins; icing sugar for the ramekins and to finish; 5 large or 6 medium eggs, separated; 140g caster sugar; 56g ground almonds, sieved; finely grated zest of 1 orange; 2 tbsp Grand Marnier.
Using a brush, grease the ramekins with a thin layer of butter. (I was taught that you should start at the bottom and brush up the way.) As these will be served in the ramekin and not turned out, there is no need to grease the base. Whisk the egg yolks. As they start to turn pale, gradually add the sugar till you have a pale, thick mixture. Whisk in the orange rind, almonds and Grand Marnier. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff.
The next stage is to fold the egg white into the yolk mixture. Start by taking a small spoonful of the white and stir into the other bowl to loosen the yolk mixture. Then, with a large metal spoon or spatula, fold the remaining whites into the yolk mixture. You have to be careful to avoid knocking the air out of the whipped whites. For a demonstration, watch the video on https://bit.ly/2UKX0vv Divide equally among the ramekins, and ensure the surfaces are smooth, and the edges clean. You can do this up to a couple of hours ahead. Cover with clingfilm. If you refrigerate, make sure they are back to room temperature before cooking.
Preheat your oven to 180˚C/Mark 4. Just before putting in the oven run the tip of a sharp knife around the top of the mixture. Bake for 25 minutes. Do not open the oven door. Have to hand icing sugar in a sieve. Dust the sugar over the baked soufflés and serve immediately.