I make this for Easter brunch with my in-laws 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!)
1 cube room temperature unsalted butter: 6 Tb for soufflé plus about 2 Tb to coat casserole
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese
1 large shallot
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!)
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
a few shakes paprika
Preheat oven to 475’
Generously coat a round 8” by 3” straight-sided casserole dish (2.5 liters or 10 cups) with soft butter. Shake Parmesan cheese around pan to coat sides and bottom, Reserve any excess cheese.
Grate cheddar cheese and add reserved Parmesan.
Mince a large shallot to make 2 Tb. Heat 1 Tb butter in a heavy pan and cook shallots until softened. Mince chives and add to shallots for the last few seconds.
Make Béchamel (bay-shah-MEHL) sauce: Melt 5 Tb butter in the same pot. Whisk in flour and salt, cayenne, nutmeg, and black pepper. Add milk and whisk well. Stir in cheese. Let cool.
While Béchamel sauce is cooling, separate eggs, pouring whites into a mixer bowl. Add cream of tartar to egg whites and whip 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 ¼ 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 colored streamers or tissue paper over the broken tops . You now have cascarones! When they’re dry on Easter afternoon, smash your loved one gently on their head and they will have confetti in their hair. But watch out, they may get you back!