Saturday, January 2, 2010

Butternut Squash: Day 2

After I made the squash soup, I still had half of a butternut left over. We were fixin' to have a spectacular meal (post to follow), but I forget to get something sweet for dessert. Lissa suggested that I "just whip something up." So while she was on a walk with our dog Henry I did just that. I had everything I needed for a soufflé.

Yes, that's it, a butternut squash soufflé. This will be a dessert soufflé, though I found many recipes for a savory butternut squash soufflé. I used a couple of different recipes as reference, but then just created my own monster in the end. What a lovely monster, indeed.

I mashed up all of my remaining squash, first with just a fork. Then, once I added my egg yolks (3 of them) and 'bout a 1/2 cup of maple syrup, I whisked it with my handy-dandy new hand blender whisk attachment. A sprinkle of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg, and I was ready for my egg whites.

Now, I have successfully made quite a few soufflés in my day, and they are really not that difficult. This one turned out great and I didn't even follow a recipe. Having said that, however, there are definitely guidelines and tricks that will help you turn out the best possible soufflé. Click on this link to read a post on Heidi Swanson's fabulous blog about Madame Saint-Ange's soufflé techniques. She has another post devoted to the proper method of whisking egg whites. One simple trick that I normally apply when making soufflés is to use an extra egg white. So here for example, I employed 4 whites to my 3 yolks (save the extra yolk to make potato pancakes or a mini-meatloaf or something).

Gently fold in the whites, taking note that your mixture need not be completely homogeneous. Little bits of white here and there will actually help your soufflé rise. The whole point of folding is to not expel all of the air bubbles you've just worked into your egg whites. Done. We've just to prepare the ramekins and then bake (which can happen later, or even in the next few days). Grease the bottom and sides of the ramekins with butter, and then coat with sugar. I got a wild hair and used brown sugar, which ended up clumping because of the moisture of the sugar, but proved to not be a problem in the end. Plus, I wanted a bit of molasses to accent all of those rich caramely flavors in the squash and the syrup. Pour the mixture into your ramekins leaving space at the top so the soufflés can rise. They will keep in the fridge until you are ready to use them (within a few days). I baked them at 350° for 30 minutes, being patient enough to not open the oven door and let all of my heat out! Carefully remove from the oven and serve immediately.

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