The decadent chocolate soufflé at Chateau inside La Table is not your average soufflé. It’s a rich, dark, over-the-top treat that will make you swoon. What makes it so special?
For starters, executive pastry chef Otto Sanchez doesn’t take the easy route in preparing the base, opting for what he refers to as the “old school” process of creating a roux first while modern day recipes generally skip this step. He says the roux is critical to ensuring a richer, thicker product and if people say they don’t like soufflé it’s most likely due to the “eggy” factor of modern variations.
As a result of this extra attention, Sanchez says his soufflés are more like a cross between cake and soufflé – sounds pretty delightful, right? Locals tend to agree seeing as the restaurant serves up about 50 chocolate soufflés every weekend and 20-25 on an average weekday.
So how do a handful of ingredients create such a decadent dessert? Chef Sanchez walked us through the steps of his chocolate soufflé. You could try this at home, but why should you? Soak in the vibe at Château and let the gracious staff tend to your whims, which should definitely include ordering this dessert.
While modern recipes call for adding egg yolks to melted chocolate, Sanchez starts his process with a blonde roux: melted butter is combined with flour and cooked until the flour taste is gone and a very slight color is present; it’s a fine line, however, as Sanchez cautions, “We don’t want too much color otherwise it will taste like gumbo.”
Once the roux reaches the perfect consistency, cold milk is added a little bit at a time and whisked together until combined.
Next, Sanchez adds a cocoa paste composed of milk, sugar, and cocoa powder (70% Valrhona if you’re wondering), which will result in a very thick chocolate mixture. He continues to cook and whisk over a medium/medium-high heat until most of the moisture is removed.
Once the mixture is thick and smooth, 300 grams of rich egg yolk are added. Sanchez says measuring ingredients in grams ensures the process is “Almost foolproof. Almost.”
Once the chocolate-egg yolk mixture boils and is somewhat smooth, it is transferred to a mixing bowl where it will spin around and cool down. This step is essential to allow the following meringue to fold in properly and not melt. While the chocolate mixture whirls and cools, a meringue is created with egg whites, sugar, and a little bit of egg white powder. Sanchez says they know it is ready when it “has the consistency of shaving cream.”
Since the prior two steps are a lot of hurry up and wait, the pending soufflé vessels get their own prep too. Butter is brushed inside with a vertical motion to keep the lines straight up and down. If the lines sway, the soufflé won’t rise properly as the batter will follow the lines as it bakes. Butter is brushed on, the vessel is placed in the cooler, then more butter is brushed and the whole thing is sprinkled with sugar.
After the chocolate mixture is cooled, crème de cacao liquor is added “Just cause there’s not enough chocolate” Sanchez explains with a sarcastic grin. The egg white meringue is added to the batter just enough to lighten the mixture, and then the rest is folded in gently. The mixture is added to its dish with an ice cream scoop, followed by a layer of dark chocolate pieces, and topped with more filling.
A spreader is used to flatten the filling so it cooks evenly in the oven. The final pre-bake step is to run a finger along the edge of the vessel, which prevents the batter from sticking to the side.
The soufflé goes into a 350-degree oven for 17-19 minutes, depending on the heat of the oven. How do they know when it’s ready to come out? “We just know.” If an errant soufflé comes out undone, adjustments are made.
The soufflé is removed from the oven and dusted with powdered sugar. It is then ready to be enjoyed by the lucky guest who ordered it. It can be made extra special with a scoop of vanilla ice cream placed inside tableside, or accompanied by a shot of Grand Marnier, which Sanchez says is popular with guests.