Miss P is now the proud owner of a new set of braces. Last weekend was my first chance to see them -- Martin and her mom accompanied her to get them earlier in the week -- though I had heard reports of the all-to-familiar mouth pain she was experiencing all week. I personally had a fair bit of orthodontic work in my day. Everything from multiple tooth extractions to headgear (only worn at night) and many years of braces. Knowing first hand just how nasty those first days feel, I decided to make a meal that would be easy for her to enjoy. We had Martin's mom over as well, so I decided that was enough people to try out the Lemon Souffle recipe I'd been eying in my Modern Classics Book 2 (Donna Hay) cookbook.
Like savoury souffles, this recipe was deceptively easy to make, but very impressive to serve. The trickiest part was a step that I would actually not bother with next time. The recipe suggests you create little parchment paper collars to tie around your small dishes/ramekins which was a bit tricky to do, and took Martin's mom, Miss P and I a fair bit of fussing. In the end, I ended up filling two extra ramekins with less of the souffle mixture and no collars and they didn't overflow, spill, fall or anything. In fact, they came out much more nicely than the ones that had the collars removed (which you can see in the foreground of the shot there). The recipe claimed to make 4 souffles, I ended up with 6 (4 of which were kind of gigantic) and had to throw some of the mix away. So I'd say you could easily reduce this recipe (though it's hard to divide 5 eggs in half) and end up with a suitable amount for 4 people. Also, it was just a bit too sugary for my and Martin's mom (aka MorMor) taste. Though you use fresh lemon juice (and added zest) which makes it very tart, it could still be a bit less sweet. The recipe suggests lowering the sugar and using raspberry pulp or passionfruit pulp instead of lemon juice. I think this recipe could have had 2/3 the sugar or used a combo of lemon juice and raspberry pulp and less sugar as suggested and you'd still have a very tasty dessert.
Beyond the critique what did I (and perhaps most importantly Miss P) think? It was pretty darn tasty. Kind of like a cup full of the meringue off a lemon pie. It would have also been really great with some shaved or curled dark chocolate pieces. It is also gluten free (assuming your cornstarch is gluten free) though really not vegan. It was an awesome excuse to use my KitchenAid (again) and I can't stress how high the easy/impressive quotient is, if you're looking to impress your dinner guests. You do need to do the egg whipping part just before you pop them in the oven, but the rest can be prepared and chilled ahead of time, making it really easy to put together and bake after dinner. The recipe is after the jump.
butter, softened for greasing
caster sugar for dusting
100 ml fresh lemon juice
(I added the zest of half a lemon)
2/3 cup caster sugar (I would reduce this to 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornflour/starch
2 teaspoons extra water
5 egg whites
1/3 cup caster sugar
Lightly grease 4 (I would say 8 for this recipe) 3/4cup (6 oz) ramekins with butter and dust with sugar. Now the book says to make the parchment paper collars, but I would skip this step next time and just not fill them quite as much. Place the ramekins well apart on a baking tray.
Place the lemon juice, (added zest), sugar (1st amount) and water in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to the boil.
Combine the cornflour with the extra water and mix to a smooth paste. Add to pan and cook for 1 minute stirring continuously. Refrigerate until cold.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the egg whites in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer/in the bowl of your lovely stand mixer. Mix until soft peaks form. Add the extra sugar (1/3 cup) in a thin stream, beating until glossy. Place the cooled lemon mixture in a large bowl and gently fold the stiff egg whites into the lemon mixture.
Spoon into the ramekins. (My note, if you fill these to just above the top, they'll fluff up but not spill over). Lightly dust the top with sugar (not too much or they'll fall). Bake for 12-15 minutes or until risen.