It’s my turn to host gourmet club this month, and I’ve chosen French food as the theme. (It’s not very original with all the Julia Child buzz from last fall, I know, but I thought it would work well since French food and February are generally known for romance.) My first test recipe (which I failed to photograph!) was Ina Garten’s Boeuf Bourguignon. It was absolutely delicious and can be made a day ahead, so I put it on the official menu. The recipe serves six, though, and while there are only six people in my gourmet club, I wasn’t completely comfortable without a bit of wiggle room in terms of portions. Rather than make more Boeuf Bourguignon, I thought it would be more interesting to curb appetites a bit with a first course. I originally thought to serve salad and even tried a recipe, but it just wasn’t fitting with my vision.
Luckily, an Epicurious search turned up fancy, make-ahead food gold: Twice-Baked Garlic Soufflés. In my mind, soufflés were always temperamental intermediate- or expert-level dishes that had to be served immediately. These do take a bit of work for the initial assembly, but you end up with perfect individual portions waiting in the refrigerator. A bit of seasoned cream and 15 minutes in the oven are all that stand between you and heaven on a plate.
I followed the recipe as written, so I won’t go through the step-by-step here. I do have a few notes, though, that may be helpful if you want to attempt the recipe:
- When the recipe says “5 cloves dried garlic,” it’s talking about the garlic we are accustomed to buying in the produce section of American supermarkets. (Take a bulb, separate and peel five cloves, and chop them.) I’m not even sure where to buy fresh garlic.
- I used regular white vinegar, whole milk, and Cantal cheese (which I actually managed to find in the “fancy” cheese section of my regular old grocery store).
- I brought my eggs to room temperature before using them. Either let them sit on the counter for 30 minutes or submerge them in a container of warm (not hot!) water for 2 minutes or so.
- I used my immersion blender to puree the garlic milk; it worked beautifully.
- My ramekins only had a 1/2-cup capacity (not 3/4 cup as the recipe recommends), but I didn’t have any problems.
- My first round of baking was 25 minutes at 350F.
- I wasn’t as thorough as I could have been when I buttered my ramekins, so I struggled just a bit to get my soufflés out of the dishes. Next time, I’ll butter generously. It doesn’t really matter if they don’t come out perfectly anyway since no one will see the bottoms when the finished product is served.
- To hold the soufflés until the next day, I put them in larger ramekins (as the recipe says), let them cool completely, covered them with plastic wrap, and then placed them in the refrigerator.
- I put salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese in the heavy cream to make my sauce.
- To serve the soufflés, I pulled them out of the refrigerator, removed the plastic wrap, and placed them on a rimmed baking sheet. I spooned the cream sauce over them, baked them for 15 minutes at 400F, and served them immediately.
Here are the soufflés straight out of the oven after the first round of baking (nice and puffy!):
Here are the cooled soufflés in the larger ramekins before I covered them with plastic wrap:
And here’s the final product:
They didn’t puff up quite as much as I had hoped after the second baking, but they were so incredibly delicious! The savory combination of the garlic, thyme, and Cantal cheese was seriously to die for. The texture was really light and fluffy, and baking them with the cream sauce creates a flaky, crusty top. I loved how Dr. O said that he really enjoyed the sauce… What’s not to like about something that’s 95% heavy cream? 😉
I served the soufflés with vegetables as a light dinner the first night; Dr. O liked them so much that he had two more for breakfast the next day (a good sign!). The recipe only mentions making the soufflés one day ahead, but the fact that they were just as delicious that morning tells me that you can easily get away with two days. I’m just so excited to have found a make-ahead recipe that is flavorful, gorgeous, and perfect for entertaining; this one will definitely be filed as a “keeper.”
Recipe link: Twice-Baked Garlic Soufflés