Somewhere along the culinary line, a soufflé has a reputation for being difficult or temperamental to make, but they're actually very simple. They get their signature height from stiffly beaten egg whites and can be prepared both as a savory main course for lunch, or as a sweet dessert.
Using only a few staple ingredients, you can whip one up in no time that's guaranteed to impress at a dinner party yet easy enough for a casual supper.
A classic French comfort food, soufflés are much part of our popular culture and culinary history. While traditional cheese soufflés can take up to 1 1/2 to cook, these mini cheese soufflés take 25 minutes or less.
The only caveat being, a soufflé MUST be served the minute it comes out of the oven. That isn't impossible, but it does require some advanced planning.
"Le soufflé n'attend pas! Ce sont les invités qui attendent le soufflé!"
The soufflé doesn't wait. It is the guests who wait for the soufflé.
2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
1 cup whole milk
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated Swiss cheese (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces)
Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 400F. Butter 6-cup (1 1/2-quart) soufflé dish. Add breadcrumbs and tilt dish, coating bottom and sides. Note you can substitute breadcrumbs with finely grated Parmesan chees. Warm milk in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming. Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture begins to foam and loses raw taste, about 3 minutes (do not allow mixture to brown). Remove saucepan from heat; let stand 1 minute. Pour in warm milk, whisking until smooth. Return to heat and cook, whisking constantly until very thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in paprika, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, whisking to blend after each addition. Scrape soufflé base into large bowl. Cool to lukewarm
CAN DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into lukewarm or room temperature soufflé base to lighten. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions while gradually sprinkling in assorted cheese. Note you can substitute both the Swiss and cheddar with Gruyere instead. Transfer batter to prepared dish. Place dish in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 375F. Bake until soufflé is puffed and golden brown on top and center moves only slightly when dish is shaken gently, about 25 minutes (do not open oven door during first 20 minutes). Serve immediately!