I’m going to call these my Jimmy Orrante soufflés. Jimmy Orrante is my favorite local celebrity. Are you a celebrity if you are an extremely talented dancer and choreographer with BalletMet? I’m going to say yes.
Now, you may be wondering why these are my Jimmy Orrante soufflés then. It’s because when I walked in to World Market last week to buy these soufflé ramekins, he was there. Like, right when I walked in the door, in the checkout line. I tried not to be a total freak and stare at him, but I’d be lying if we didn’t make eye contact several times. And by “made eye contact” I mean he caught me gawking at him like a stalker several times. But I took him being there as a sign that these soufflés were destined for success.
And NOW you’re probably wondering why his mere presence in World Market while I was buying these ramekins was a good omen. And I tell you it’s because ballet dancers are like best friends with egg whites. It’s true! Remember the pavlova? A meringue dessert, named after Anna Pavlova, the Russian ballerina. I have literally zero other examples of egg whites and ballerinas being paired up. But since these soufflés were delicious, I think it must be a trend. Or at least worth investigating. Get on it, scientists.
Soufflés are, in fact, a perfect dessert for ballet. Both are pretty damn fancy. This is my first time ever making and even eating a soufflé, so I know that someone is going to come on here and be like, “Pfffft, those soufflés aren’t X, Y, and Z.” Whatever, dude. They taste great. I was honestly expecting to hate these because I thought they would be overly eggy or a weird texture or too sweet. Nope, they’re foamy and light and wonderful.
My only foreknowledge of soufflés is from TV and movies. Like a TV woman in the ’50s who is trying to prove she can be a good housewife cries because her soufflé collapses and her husband is all, “I love you anyway, honey.” (Gross.) So I was pretty much expecting that to happen and my husband to come home to an I Love Lucy situation and then maybe there would be a laugh track at the end and I’m somehow wearing a big poofy dress during all this.
What really happened was I (in pajamas, not a poofy dress) put these in the oven with no paper collar and no leveling of the tops (those are things you can do to make them look extra fancy and tall, apparently). And I took them out and they were all craggy and puffy and risen above the tops of the ramekins. Then I rushed them over to prepare them for photos and by the time I got my camera ready, they had deflated a bit. I read that that’s pretty normal and, to be fair, most people aren’t trying to snap photos of their soufflés because they’re more focused on, you know, serving them.
So during photos, I shoved my spoon in one of them and… holy crap. That’s a good dessert. I’m not a health nut (clearly), but I’ve got to think these are maybe a healthier dessert than some of my others. One that even a ballet dancer could eat and keep his/her figure.
- ½ cup (120 mL) whole milk
- 1 tablespoon (8 grams) cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon (165 grams) granulated sugar, divided (plus more for coating ramekins)
- ¾ cup (185 grams) pumpkin puree
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon (25 grams) blackstrap molasses
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 8 large egg whites, at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup (35 grams) hazelnuts, chopped and toasted
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, cornstarch, spices, and 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, whisking the whole time. Remove from heat and whisk in pumpkin puree. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and cool to room temperature.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together heavy cream and molasses until soft peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag or a small bowl and refrigerate. Clean your mixing bowl and whisk attachment.
- Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush 8 soufflé ramekins with melted butter, then shake sugar around the sides and bottom of each ramekin to coat it, dumping out any excess (about 1 teaspoon of sugar per ramekin should do it).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat eggs and sea salt until soft peaks form. Add remaining ¾ cup (150 grams) sugar and beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes more.
- Plop one-third of the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture and fold to loosen it up. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain. Divide the mixture among the prepared ramekins.
- Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and stick in the oven for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are golden and puffed up over the top of the ramekins. Serve immediately with blackstrap whipped cream and toasted hazelnuts.