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Chocolate Soufflé



(Yields 4 soufflés; standard 12-ounce round ceramic molds)
4 to 6 ounces softened butter
1/2 to 1 cup granulated sugar
16 ounces pastry cream (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
10 egg whites
pinch granulated salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Step 1: Prepare the molds by brushing the inside edges and bottom completely with softened, unsweetened butter using a pastry brush to ensure complete coverage. Be sure butter goes completely to the top edge of the mold. Pour about 1/2 cup of granulated sugar into the mold and roll it around so that it adheres to the bottom and all up the inside edges of the mold. Pour out any excess sugar and use elsewhere in the recipe. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Step 2: Make the pastry cream base using the recipe below and set aside. The base may be made one day in advance and stored in the refrigerator to save time.
Step 3: In a medium stainless steel bowl, put 16 ounces (by weight) of the pastry cream base. Add the cocoa powder using a spoon, work it into the pastry cream until all is fully incorporated. Set aside. In another stainless steel bowl, put 10 egg whites and a pinch of salt. Using an electric mixer start beating the whites at high speed and gradually add 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Continue beating until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into  bowl with pastry cream until an even consistency is achieved. Distribute the mix between the four prepared molds filling each to within 1/2 inch of the top edge. Immediately place the filled molds on the lowest rack of the preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Time will vary depending on your oven and molds. Remove carefully when soufflés have risen and are browned on top. Place them on serving plates.

Step 4: Serve the soufflés without delay. Decorate the top with a dusting of powdered sugar or leave plain. Chocolate sauce or fresh whipped cream may be served on the side or on top.

Pastry Cream: (Yields about 1 1/2 Pints; enough for 4 soufflés)
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 cups whole milk, scalding
Step 1: Combine yolks, sugar, flour, and corn starch in a bowl until smooth. Slowly add scalding milk while stirring with a wire whip until all is well incorporated.
Step 2: Put combined ingredients into a non-aluminum sauce pot and, while stirring constantly with a heat-proof spatula or wooden spoon, heat the mix until it starts to thicken. Bring to a complete boil without scorching. Remove from pan and place in a bowl or storage container. Stir occasionally while cooling to avoid a skin forming on top.
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