I feel like I know Mr. Bittman well enough now to call him by his first name since he always just refers to me as “you” while we cook together, and every week I find myself SO turned off by Mark’s exclusion of racy food photos in his cookbook. Maybe it’s just my Pinterest-washed brain, but he doesn’t even use alliteration or sexy adjectives to describe the food, how am I supposed to get excited about these things? Where is the melted butter and gooey chocolate?? Anyway, this week I made *drumroll* “Vanilla or Chocolate Soufflé” (p. 958) whilst drinking wine to make it more exciting. Perhaps Mark should consider this method when writing his next book… Even my wine has an aroma description, “Freshly baked double chocolate cookies,” and an “Irresistible, tender treat that goes on, & on, & on…” character, as I near the end of the bottle, I can attest these are all things true. I do give Mark props for using the word “jiggles” though, bold move, but it happens too near the end of the recipe for a full recovery.
The recipe is pretty easy to follow besides for the ambiguous, “At this point, you may cool the mixture, cover it tightly, and refrigerate for a few hours.” Like, do I HAVE to or is Mark just giving me permission if I feel like it? I decide a wine-drinking Mark would permit me to throw it in the fridge for 30 minutes just to avoid cooking the egg whites.
The recipe is a classic example of an egg white protein structure. The egg whites are beaten and stirred into what Mark calls a “sauce,” but is more of a batter. During baking, steam fills the air pockets and the soufflé rises, its strength coming from the egg proteins and gluten forming proteins. Neat. Next time, I might try stirring in more chocolate right before putting the mixture into the dishes so a chocolate sauce forms at the bottom, like a cheese soufflé. The result was somewhat lackluster, perhaps that’s why Mark didn’t jazz up the name.