By Greg Patent – Guest Contributor and Baking Wizard
Here’s a perfect light and airy dessert for summer. Over forty years ago I fell in love with a recipe called Praline Soufflé Fifi, a creation of the late and great Michael Field. You beat egg whites with sugar to make a meringue and fold in a homemade powdered pecan praline. After baking the soufflé in a hot water bath and letting it cool, you upend it onto a platter and decorate it with raspberry sauce, whipped cream, and fresh raspberries. The recipe appeared in the November 28, 1971, issue of The New York Times Magazine. Over the years I’ve tweaked it some, but the basics are intact. For your information, I have no idea who Fifi is.
A soufflé (French for “puffed up”) is usually made with egg yolks and egg whites and served hot from the oven. This soufflé, made with just whites, is a departure from tradition, and it is served at room temperature or even cold. There is tremendous drama in bringing a hot soufflé to the table before it has a chance to sink. This praline soufflé is supposed to sink – and it will begin to do so as soon as you take it out of the oven.
You’ll need an 8-cup soufflé mold and an electric mixer, preferably a stand model, which makes quick work of beating the meringue. The soufflé mold I use is made of tin and is 4 inches tall and 7 ¼ inches across the top opening. It has two heart-shaped handles. Similar molds are readily available at Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, and other online retailers of specialty kitchen equipment.
TIP: The most important thing to keep in mind when whipping egg whites is to use a grease-free bowl and whip. And make sure no bits of yolk find their way into the whites. Egg yolks contain fat and egg whites do not. Egg yolk fats prevent egg whites from whipping properly.
Make the praline first. A day or two ahead is fine. I make more than the recipe calls for and store it refrigerated in a screw-cap jar. Once that’s done, the soufflé comes together very quickly. Without further ado, here is the recipe:
PRALINE SOUFFLÉ with RASPBERRY SAUCE
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pecan halves
Butter for the soufflé pan
Sugar for the soufflé pan
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large), at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
10 tablespoons superfine sugar (also called Baker’s Sugar) or granulated sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup pecan praline powder
3 cups fresh raspberries
3 to 4 tablespoons sugar, superfine or granulated
1 to 2 tablespoons Framboise or Kirsch, optional
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Puree 2 cups raspberries and force through a fine strainer to remove the seeds. Stir in sugar until completely dissolved and add the liqueur of your choice or the vanilla. Reserve remaining 1 cup raspberries for decoration.
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon Framboise or Kirsch or ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whip the cream, sugar, and flavoring until stiff enough to be piped through a pastry bag.
To serve, dab the soufflé with a paper towel to remove any sugar syrup released by the praline. Decorate the soufflé with some of the raspberry sauce, the whipped cream, and fresh raspberries. Cut into portions and serve. The soufflé will have an attractive layered look. A mint sprig makes a nice garnish.
Store leftover soufflé in the refrigerator but bring to room temperature before serving.
Makes 6 to 8 servings. Every single one of which will be tremendously enjoyed!!