Cheese Soufflé

I make this for Easter brunch and serve it with bunny biscuits (Light as a feather cream biscuits cut into bunny shapes with a cookie cutter).

My mom used to make this soufflé for dinner back in the day. I added some suggestions I found in my favorite cookbook, Joy of cooking

The key to this dish is timing. The soufflé must be served immediately or it will fall. Bake the bunny biscuits ahead of the soufflé, (wrap them in a dishtowel to keep warm), raise the temperature to 475′. then pop the soufflé into the oven so it will be ready to serve when the guests sit down.

Don’t pour the soufflé more than 1 inch from the top of the pan, or it will not cook thoroughly and spill over the top (I can tell you from experience!)

Serves 6

Nonstick spray

6 Tb butter

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese

1 large shallot

10 crimini mushrooms, well

6 Tb flour

¼  teaspoon salt

grind of black pepper

one shake of cayenne

1 shake of nutmeg

1 ½  cups milk (I use 1% to make up for all that butter!)

6 large eggs

a few shakes paprika

Preheat oven to 475’

Spray a round 8” by 3” straight-sided casserole dish (2.5 liters or 10 cups) with non-stick spray.

Grate cheddar and Parmesan cheese and set aside.

Mince a large shallot to make 2 Tb. Cut off stem ends of mushrooms and cut into quarters.

Heat 1 Tb butter in a heavy pan and cook shallots and mushrooms over medium heat until softened.

Make Béchamel (bay-shah-MEHL) sauce: Melt 5 Tb butter in a medium pot. Whisk in flour and salt, cayenne, nutmeg, and black pepper. Add milk and whisk well until thickened. Stir in cheese. Let cool.

While Béchamel sauce is cooling, separate eggs, pouring whites into a mixer bowl.  Whip egg whites until stiff glossy peaks form.

Whisk egg yolks well, then slowly whisk into the cooled Béchamel sauce. Pour soufflé base into a large bowl.

Stir a couple of tablespoons of the beaten egg whites into the soufflé base to lighten it. Then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites by dividing the soufflé in half with a large serving spoon or plastic spatula, and folding one half over the other, repeating several times until the whites are incorporated.

Pour into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with a bit of paprika.

Run your thumb along the top inside of the casserole dish, making a 1” groove into the soufflé . This will help the soufflé to rise evenly.

Place on a baking sheet in the lower third of the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 475’. Lower heat to 400’ and bake for 20 more minutes. The soufflé should rise 3- 4” above the top of the casserole and have a golden crust. It should feel firm with only a slightly wobbly middle. Serve immediately.

What to do with all those eggshells? Dye them and stuff them with confetti, then glue pieces of colored streamers or tissue paper over the broken tops . You now have cascarones! When they’re dry on Easter afternoon, crush the eggshell over your loved one’s head and they will have confetti in their hair. But watch out, they may get you back!

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