The daily routines of four wellness obsessives profiled in The Times included some habits backed up by evidence – and some that definitely aren’t.
A chocolate soufflé is a delicious dessert perfect to make for the people you love. A Valentine’s Day classic, the soufflé has a reputation for being very difficult to make and very easy to mess up. However, by using high-quality chocolate, whipping a lot of air into your eggs, and cooking them properly, you can make a perfect chocolate soufflé for any occasion.
1 tablespoon (15g) of butter, plus extra for ramekins
of dark chocolate
2 tablespoons (30ml) of freshly brewed black coffee
2 teaspoons (10ml) of vanilla extract
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5g) kosher salt
7 tablespoons (85g) of white sugar, plus extra for ramekins
Makes 4 servings
EditMaking the Batter
Combine the chocolate, butter, and coffee in a large glass bowl. Choose a high-quality dark chocolate, as this will be the main flavor of your finished soufflé. Chop chocolate into small pieces and transfer to a bowl with 1 tablespoon (15g) butter and 2 tablespoons (30ml) freshly-brewed coffee.As you’ll be adding extra sugar to the soufflé later on, you should choose a dark, bittersweet chocolate to prevent your soufflé from being too sweet. A high-quality dark chocolate with around 70% cacao will work excellently for this.
The chocolate base is where all of the flavor for the soufflé comes from, with the lightness coming from the meringue that is folded in. You can prepare the base ahead of time and store it in the fridge for a few hours until you need to use it.
Melt the chocolate mixture over a double-boiler. Fill the bottom of a saucepan with around of water and bring it to a slight simmer. Put the glass bowl with the chocolate over the saucepan, making sure to keep the bottom of the bowl out of the water. Let the chocolate melt and combine with the other ingredients, stirring occasionally until smooth.Using a double-boiler will apply a very slight heat to your chocolate, which will prevent it from burning.
If you can’t make a double-boiler, you could also melt the chocolate in a microwave on a very low setting. Heat it for 20 to 30 seconds at a time, stirring often until the mixture is melted.
Stir in the vanilla extract and egg yolks. Pour 2 teaspoons (10ml) of vanilla extract into the melted chocolate mixture, stirring until it is fully incorporated. Take the chocolate off the heat and beat in the yolks of 3 large eggs, saving the egg whites for the meringue. Once everything is fully combined, place the bowl back on the double-boiler and turn the heat as low as it can go.The vanilla extract will complement the flavor of the chocolate, rather than overpowering it.
Let the chocolate cool slightly before adding the egg yolks to stop them from cooking. For extra caution, combine a little of the chocolate mixture with the egg yolks before adding them to the remaining mixture. This will temper the eggs and prevent them from scrambling.
Leaving the chocolate base sitting over the double-boiler will keep it just warm enough to stop the chocolate and butter from solidifying, without cooking the egg yolks. You can leave the chocolate base sitting here while you work on the meringue.
Whip the egg whites and salt in a new bowl until soft and airy. In a different bowl, use a whisk or electric beater to begin whipping 5 egg whites and 1 teaspoon (5g) of salt into a soft meringue. Beat them only until they begin taking in some air, become white in color, and the whole mixture looks lighter.Use the leftover egg whites from the eggs used to make the chocolate base. The two egg yolks you have left over when making the meringue can be used to make custard to serve alongside your soufflé.
You should stop whipping the egg whites just before they get to the soft peak stage. This step is only to lighten the egg whites before slowly incorporating the sugar, in order to make a light and smooth meringue.
Pour in the white sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Once the egg whites are light and airy, you can begin incorporating 7 tablespoons (85g) of sugar. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar to the egg whites, beating them until the sugar is fully incorporated. Repeat this process until all of the sugar has been mixed in and your meringue forms stiff peaks.A meringue that has “stiff peaks” will be able to stand up straight on its own. Lift the whisk or electric beater up and out of the meringue and observe the peaks that form. If they droop over back into the meringue, they are soft peaks. If they stand up straight and only drop slightly, they’re stiff peaks and your meringue is ready.
Stir 1/3 of the meringue mixture into the chocolate base. Use a rubber spatula or a large wooden spoon to transfer around 1/3 of the meringue mixture to the bowl containing the chocolate base. Stir the meringue and chocolate together until the chocolate becomes lighter, in both color and texture, and the two are fully combined.This will help add some air into the chocolate before you mix in the rest of the meringue, making it much easier to combine the two while keeping the mixture light and airy.
Fold the remaining meringue into the chocolate. Transfer the rest of the egg whites to the chocolate bowl. Use long, slow strokes with a rubber spatula or large wooden spoon to the lift the chocolate up and fold the egg whites into it. Keep folding the egg whites into the chocolate until they are just combined.If you overmix your soufflé batter, you’ll knock out a lot of the air and stop the soufflés from rising fully. Mix just until you don’t see any streaks of egg white left in the chocolate mixture.
EditCooking the Soufflé
Preheat your oven to . While this won’t be the temperature your souffle cooks at, it will give them a blast of extra hot air just as they go in the oven. This will help expand the egg whites and make your soufflé rise more evenly.
Grease your ramekins with butter and coat them with sugar. Use a pastry brush or something similar to cover the entire inside of your ramekins with melted butter. Once they are greased, add a teaspoon or two of white, granulated sugar to each ramekin. Rotate the ramekins so that they are coated in sugar and pour the excess out.This recipe creates approximately enough batter for four ramekins.
The grease of the butter and the fine granulation of the sugar will stop the edges of your soufflé from catching on the edges as it attempts to rise.
Pour the mixture evenly between the ramekins. Slightly overfill each ramekin with the soufflé batter, so that the mixture is just above the top of the ramekin. Use a knife or other flat utensil to quickly scrape any excess batter off of the top and back into the bowl, giving your soufflé a perfectly level top.As with most other steps in preparing to cook your soufflé, leveling the top off will help your soufflé rise evenly as it cooks.
Use your finger to wipe away any stray batter that lands on the rim or outside of the ramekin as you pour.
Run your thumb around the edge of the ramekin. Slightly below the top edge of a standard ramekin is a second, lower rim. Place your thumb on the inside of the ramekin so that it is just touching the lower rim. Rotate the ramekin around, lifting the soufflé batter away from the top edge of the ramekin as you do. Repeat with the other ramekins.Again, this will help your souffle rise, preventing it from getting caught on any stray or quick cooking batter on the edge of the ramekin.
Put the soufflés in the oven and lower the temperature to . Lowering the temperature immediately after putting the soufflés the oven will give them a blast of hot air needed to kickstart their rising without burning the tops. Place the ramekins on a baking tray to make taking them out easier, and leave them to cook for around 14 minutes.Do not open the oven while the soufflés are cooking. The change in temperature can halt the rising of the soufflés and make them start sinking instead.
Remove the soufflés from the oven and serve immediately. As soon as they are taken out of the oven, the soufflés will begin to sink. Take them off the baking tray and serve them as soon as possible to keep them very light and airy. Here are a few extra serving suggestions:Dust the top of your soufflés with a little powdered sugar or cocoa powder for some extra or sweetness or chocolate flavor.
Use a spoon to make a small hole in the center of the soufflé and add a dollop of whipped cream or creme anglaise just before serving. This will help balance out some of the dense chocolate flavor of the soufflé.
EditThings You’ll Need
Whisk or electric beater
Make a Chocolate Lover’s Pumpkin Pie
Make Lemon Meringue Pie
Make a Gooey Pumpkin Pie
EditSources and Citations
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1343 – Arnost of Pardubice becomes the first Archbishop of Prague (and the last bishop of Prague)
1526 – Charles V and Francis I sign the Treaty of Madrid, forcing Francis to give up claims to Burgundy, Italy and Flanders
1973 – “Aloha from Hawaii”, an Elvis Presley concert, becomes the most watched broadcast by an individual entertainer
1984 – Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini scores a 3rd-round TKO of Bobby Chacon to retain his WBA lightweight title in Reno, Nevada; Chacon so severely battered he thanks referee Richard Steele for stopping the fight
1995 – 10,000 South Africans attend state funeral of Joe Slovo
1998 – Charles Barkley pleads not guilty to an assault charge
More Historical Events »
1824 – Vladimir Stasov, Russian art and music critic, born in Saint Petersburg, Russia (d. 1906)
1836 – Henri Fantin-Latour, French painter, born in Grenoble, France (d. 1904)
1919 – Andy Rooney, American CBS news correspondent (60 Minutes), born in Albany, New York (d. 2011)
1921 – Ken Sailors, American professional basketball player (popularized and may have invented the jump shot), born in Bushnell, Nebraska (d. 2016)
1936 – Clarence Carter, American singer (Thread the Needle), born in Montgomery, Alabama
1989 – 29-year-old Marie Claude Adam gives birth to sextuplets by Caesarean section in Port Royale, France
More Famous Birthdays »
1901 – Victor Balaguer, Catalaans historian/politician/author, dies at 76
1912 – Otto Liebmann, German philosopher (Kant and Epigones), dies at 71
1915 – Richard Meux Benson, founder of Anglican religious order (b. 1824)
1929 – Cornelis W Lely, Dutch Governor of Suriname (1902-05), dies at 74
1988 – Georgy M Malenkov, PM of USSR (1953-55), dies at 86
2016 – Alan Rickman, English actor (Die Hard, Harry Potter franchise), dies of cancer at 69
More Famous Deaths »
A seasonal treat to keep you perky during all your autumnal activities, homemade root beer is easy to make with the right supplies. On a stove, you can make the drink base yourself with ingredients, and ferment it with yeast and molasses for flavor. Alternatively, you can use a store-bought root beer extract to mix with water and sugar, and allow it to cool down with dry ice.
EditBrewed Root Beer
1/4 oz. (7.08 g) dried sassafras root bark
1/4 oz. (7.08 g) dried birch bark
1/4 oz. (7.08 g) dried sarsaparilla root
1/8 oz. (3.54 g) of dried licorice root
A piece of unpeeled ginger, sliced thin
1 vanilla bean, split
1/8 tsp. (0.6 g) of active dry yeast
EditRoot Beer Extract Method
of cold water
of granulated sugar, depending on how sweet you want it
of root beer extract
of dry ice, broken into pieces
EditBrewing Root Beer
Boil and infuse the aromatic ingredients to create your flavor base. In a medium sized pot, add 1/4 ounce (7.08 g) of sassafras root bark, 1/4 ounce (7.08 g) of birch bark, 1/4 ounce (7.08 g) of sarsaparilla root, 1/8 ounce (3.54 g) of dried licorice root, a piece of ginger, and 1 split vanilla bean. Pour of water into the pot, and then bring it to a boil.
Wait for the bubbles to just begin rising to the surface, but don’t keep it boiling after that.
Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to infuse for 2 hours. After it’s reached a boiling point, remove the pot from the heat and place the lid onto it. Leave it to cool down and infuse for a 2 full hours.
Steep the ingredients in the mixture without stirring them.
Filter the liquid through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Place the sieve over a container you can put the mixture into, and pour it through the filters. Once in the container, add an additional of filtered water, and stir thoroughly until it’s mixed together.
After adding the extra water, allow it to cool to .
Be sure to clean the container you’re filtering the mixture into beforehand with soap and hot water.
Add molasses and yeast to the mixture and let it ferment for 15 minutes. Stir in of molasses and 1/8 teaspoons (0.6 g) of active dry yeast into the root-infused liquid and place a cover on it. Set it aside, and allow it to ferment for 15 minutes.
Pour the root beer into clean, dry soda bottles. Use a funnel when adding the root beer to the bottles to avoid spilling. Fill the bottles to below the cap to allow for a pocket for the carbonation.
Clean out the bottles with warm soapy water, and allow them to air dry before pouring the root beer in them.
Leave the bottles out at room temperature to ferment for 12 hours. Screw on the lids of the bottles tightly, and set them out on your kitchen counter or table overnight to allow them enough time to ferment.
Set the bottles upright instead of laying them on their sides.
Chill the homemade root beer for 2-5 days to increase its flavor. After letting them sit at room temperature, place the soda bottles in your fridge to cool for several days. After 5 days, the yeast will have broken down the molasses for a milder flavor with a slight alcohol content.
For a stronger molasses taste, remove the root beer from the fridge after 2 days.
Open the root beer bottles carefully before serving. Gas will have built up inside the bottles that may cause the root beer to erupt out if you shake it too much while opening it, or open it too quickly. Wait for the gas to stop hissing before continuing to turn it. Once you have it open, serve your root beer over ice.
To store, simply place the lid back on the bottle and secure it tightly again. Drink the remaining root beer within a couple of days of you opening the bottle to enjoy it before it goes flat, or loses its flavor.
EditMaking Root Beer with Extract
Mix cold water, sugar, and root beer extract in a large pitcher. Use of cold water, of sugar depending on how sweet you’d like your root beer, and of root beer extract in a large pitcher. Stir the ingredients together until the water and extract have mixed well, and the sugar is fully dissolved.
Taste the mixture to see if more sugar or extract needs to be added.
Cool the drink down with dry ice. Drop of dry ice chunks into the pitcher and mix it together with a spoon to cool it down and keep it from sticking to the bottom. Upon contact, the root beer mix should bubble, and the dry ice fog will spill over the side of the pitcher.
Wear insulated gloves or use tongs when handling the dry ice.
Add the dry ice to the pitcher in a well-ventilated room to avoid inhaling its fog.
Continue stirring until the dry ice is mostly melted. Use the spoon to continually keep turning the ice around in the pitcher, cooling down the root beer. Keep this up until the dry ice is nearly dissolved, which should take around 10-15 minutes.
Serve the root beer with a ladle. Be careful to avoid placing any remaining large pieces of dry ice in the cups so others won’t burn themselves with it.
Feel free to enjoy in front of a leaf-strewn yard, an open fire pit, or while greeting trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
When brewing root beer, artificial sweetener cannot be used to replace the sugar. Actual sugar (in this case in the molasses) is required for yeast to generate carbon dioxide which carbonates the beverage. Without sugar, there is no carbonation. You might experiment with less sugar and add a substitute to make up for the lower sweetness. You can add 1/4 oz. (7.08 g) of corn sugar (dextrose) or cane sugar to carbonate the soda and sweeten with a substitute.
Use bottled water instead of tap water to guarantee better freshness.
There will be a sediment of yeast at the bottom of the bottle, so the last bit of root beer will be turbid. Decant carefully if you wish to avoid this sediment.
There might be alcohol in this homemade soft drink. The alcoholic content which results from the fermentation of this root beer has been found, through testing, to be between 0.35 and 0.5 %. Comparing this to the 6% in many beers, it would require a person to drink about of this root beer to be equivalent to one beer. For people who cannot metabolize alcohol properly or have religious prohibition against any alcohol, consumption should be limited or avoided.
Do not leave the finished root beer in a warm place for long. After a couple weeks or so at room temperature, especially in the summer when temperatures are high, enough pressure may build up to cause the bottle to explode!!
EditThings You’ll Need
EditFor Brewed Root Beer
4 clean, dry plastic soft drink bottles with cap
A pot with a lid
EditFor Root Beer Made with Extract
A Styrofoam cooler to store the dry ice
A big spoon to stir with
A ladle to serve
Gloves or tongs to hold the dry ice
Make Root Beer Float Cookies
Brew Your Own Beer
Make Ginger Ale
Make Cream Soda
[[Make a Fanta Float]}
EditSources and Citations
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