Serves 6 to 8
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS With a rich center and an airy, not cakey, exterior, this soufflé has a pure, intense chocolate flavor. The essence of a great chocolate soufflé lies in the balancing act between the chocolate, egg whites, egg yolks, and butter. Soufflés are often made with a base of béchamel (a classic French sauce made with equal amounts of butter and flour and whisked with milk over heat). However, the milk can mute the flavor of the chocolate, so we rewrote the standard recipe, removing all the flour and milk, using significantly more chocolate, and reducing the amount of butter. Beating 6 egg yolks with sugar until thick and folding that into our chocolate-butter mixture created a base that gave the soufflé plenty of volume. Beating 8 egg whites to stiff peaks gave the soufflé more lift and a better texture; we vigorously incorporated a portion of the whites into the chocolate mixture to create “medium peaks” and then folded in the remaining whipped whites before transferring the batter to the prepared soufflé dish for baking. To prevent the soufflé from overflowing the dish, leave at least 1 inch of space between the top of the batter and the rim of the dish; any excess batter should be discarded.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, plus 1 tablespoon, softened, for dish
⅓ cup (2⅓ ounces) sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for dish
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped coarse
1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon table salt
6 large eggs, separated, plus 2 large whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 2-quart soufflé dish with softened butter, then coat dish evenly with 1 tablespoon sugar; refrigerate until ready to use.
2 Melt chocolate and remaining 4 tablespoons butter in medium heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch barely simmering water, making sure that water does not touch bottom of bowl and stirring mixture occasionally until smooth. Stir in liqueur, vanilla, and salt; set aside.
3 Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat egg yolks and remaining ⅓ cup sugar on medium speed until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Fold into chocolate mixture.
4 Using clean, dry mixer bowl and whisk attachment, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes.
5 Using silicone spatula, vigorously stir one-quarter of whipped whites into chocolate mixture. Gently fold in remaining whites until just incorporated. Transfer mixture to prepared dish and bake until fragrant, fully risen, and exterior is set but interior is still a bit loose and creamy but not soupy, about 25 minutes. (To check doneness, use 2 large spoons to gently pull open top and peek inside.) Serve immediately.
Add 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water with liqueur in step 2.