Here is the best-kept culinary secret–until now. Souffle-making need not be done at the last minute. With our clever recipe, you can make them ahead! Your guests will be wowed at this very delicate dessert, and you can keep the do-ahead trick to yourself. For a twist of casual elegance, bake the bittersweet chocolate batter in 4-ounce canning jars (or individual souffle dishes). In the canning jars, the unbaked souffle can be carried, with lids twisted on, to a pot-luck dinner party where you can bake it on site.
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons butter plus additional for buttering the dishes
4 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Ice cream or heavy cream, optional
1. Butter six individual souffle dishes or 4-ounce canning jars; sprinkle the 1 tablespoon sugar evenly into all six dishes, rotating to coat the sides and tapping out excess sugar. Place on a jelly-roll pan for easier handling; set aside.
2. In a heavy, medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup sugar, flour, and milk and stir with a whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat until it thickens and boils; cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat; add the chocolate and butter and stir until smooth. Set aside.
3. Place the eggs yolks in a small bowl and egg whites in a mixer bowl. Add the vanilla extract to the yolks and stir until combined. Spoon a small amount of the melted chocolate mixture into the egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Add a bit more chocolate to the yolks to temper the yolks. Then add all back into the saucepan, stirring constantly.
4. Meanwhile, beat egg whites and salt with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. With a silicone spatula, fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture; then fold all back into remaining whites until well blended.
5. (At this point, you can cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and let stand 30 minutes at room temperature.) Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spoon the chocolate mixture evenly into prepared cups. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until souffles have puffed. Sift confectioners’ sugar over. Serve immediately with ice cream or make a slit in the top and pour in heavy cream. Make 6 servings.