Where is everybody lately? Have you all still not recovered from the holidays, ’cause like I said on Facebook: you’re awfully quiet & dare I say… boring. I haven’t been feeling the love lately as much as usual. Are you all okay? Are you still in food coma’s? Maybe you just need some dessert & a good story.
Back in October, an extremely exciting thing happened to me. I won a set of Le Creuset mini cocottes from Susan at She’s Becoming Doughmesstic. This is doubly, triply, and quadruply exciting because of a few reasons: 1) I never win anything, ever, 2) I have a Le Creuset obsession 3) I was having a kind of shitty week at the time & so I needed the boost and 4) my pink pie plate was also expected to be delivered that week & I had just purchased a second pie plate so I had a lot of baking/cooking planning to do (re: those pie plates & the saga of the pies, see this post). That always makes me happy. I like planning what I’ll be making for the next 6 weeks. Or few days, at the very least.
The picture that drew me in…
So there was this giveaway. A Le Creuset giveaway. As soon as I saw that picture I knew I had to enter- like I said, I have an obsession. And I never enter giveaways, ever. Mainly because I get so excited and then it’s a huge disappointment when I don’t win it. I sit there & think about what I’d do with it if I had it, what I’d make with it, etc. And it’s very sad when I’m not the winner. So it must have been kismet that I actually took the time to enter this one because I FREAKIN’ WON! Then I received them and they were even cuter than I anticipated.
How cute are they!? They’re actually gorgeous more than they are cute. But because of their size (about 4″ across) they definitely have an element of the cute. Le Creuset makes the most amazing casseroles, dutch ovens, stock pots & griddles. If you’re unfamiliar with them:
Le Creuset is a French cookware manufacturer best known for its colorful enameled cast iron casseroles, which the company calls “French Ovens”, or “Dutch Ovens“. The company also makes many other types of cookware, from sauce pans to tagines, and sells a line of corkscrews and wine openers under the “Screwpull” brand.
Le Creuset was founded in 1925 in the town of Fresnoy-le-Grand in Northern France by two Belgian industrialists – Armand Desaegher (a casting specialist) and Octave Aubecq (an enameling specialist). The pair introduced the signature Le Creuset round cocotte (French/Dutch Oven) soon after; the cocotte remains the company’s most popular cookware piece to this day.
In 1934 Le Creuset introduced the signature Flame (orange) colored enamel on its cast iron cookware items. The company also invented the doufeu, a Dutch oven with a concave lid that is filled with ice during the cooking process.
After World War II, Le Creuset began to focus on exportation, and by 1952, 50% of all cast iron production was bound for the United States. In 1955 Le Creuset introduced its first grill model – the Tostador – and in 1956 a new color, Elysees Yellow, was introduced to great success.
In 1957, Le Creuset purchased its competitor Les Hauts Fourneaux de Cousances and began producing some signature Cousances cookware vessels, including the doufeu, a cocotte with a water lid, under the Le Creuset brand.
The current Le Creuset logo was introduced in 1970 and was designed to be a symbolic representation of metal casting and molding.
The company was purchased by current owner Paul Van Zuydam in 1987.
Anyway, yes, I won & Susan told me to pick the color (or colors) I wanted, and so I picked that set right there, called ‘Twilight’ which contains one each of a metallic pearl, metallic pewter & metallic black. And no, I did not pick the color scheme because of The Twilight Saga. I picked it because I love black, I have both black & white dishware, & I figured they’d go with anything. And this time I waited… I didn’t start planning what I was going to make as soon as I clicked ‘enter.’ However, as soon as I found out I won, my brain went into overdrive. I started thinking of what I could make in them that would do them justice. But try as I did, I just couldn’t think of any one thing that would be appropriate to make in these to break ’em in. I thought of everything; sweet & savory. Mini chicken pot pies, individual size dips, baked individual French toast’s & Meyer lemon pudding cakes (all of which are still on my to-do list) were scrapped. After much thought (& some research, mucho thanks to the kitchn) I decided on something new & exciting for me- individual chocolate soufflés.
Delicious, one-for-you-one-for-me chocolate soufflés with a soft, pudding-like center. No sharing. No slicing or serving. Everybody gets their own! Who the eff wants to share? No one. That’s why cupcakes are so popular. Sharing is for suckers.
That last photo, directly above, was the first out of the oven- you can see it’s the highest.
I never made soufflés before, and I was admittedly a bit afraid. I heard that they were tempermental, etc. I heard Julia Child & Jacques Pépin talk about them & it always seemed intimidating. And I guess they can be, perhaps on a larger scale. I’ve heard stories of collapsing middles, soufflés that just never rise, etc. But these little ones were surprisingly easy to make, came out textbook perfect & were very delicious. Of course, keep in mind: you wait for soufflés- they do not wait for you. You eat them immediately, or they deflate as they cool. Of course they’re still edible… but they aren’t nearly as impressive. And by deflate, I mean actually deflate; the pretty tops that rise so high & majestic just sink back down, and it happens within a matter of minutes. It’s a “serve hot” type of dish. If you’re a few seconds late to the table, you’ll miss the awesomeness.
INDIVIDUAL CHOCOLATE SOUFFLÉS (adapted from Martha Stewart by moi)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar, plus more for ramekins
- 3 large eggs, room temperature, separated (whites & yolks)
- ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 5 ½ ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
- ⅔ cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 400° degrees F. Brush four 7-ounce ramekins generously with the butter; coat with granulated sugar. Whisk whites with a stand mixer until frothy, about 2 minutes. Add cream of tartar; whisk until soft peaks form. Add the ⅓ cup granulated sugar; whisk until medium peaks form, about 5 minutes.
- Set chocolate in a bowl. Whisk milk into cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring, until thick, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in chocolate until combined, then whisk in yolks and creme fraiche. Transfer to a large bowl. Gently fold in egg whites.
- Fill ramekins evenly with batter. Bake on a baking sheet, rotating halfway through, until soufflés rise but centers are still liquid, about 14 minutes.
- Remove pan holding ramekins from the oven gently. Dust soufflés with confectioners’ sugar, and serve immediately with fresh berries & whipped cream, if desired.
Can I just say one thing? AMAZEBALLS. That’s all. That’s the one thing. Just amazeballs. They rose just right, I was extremely impressed with myself! This recipe for me made the three Le Creuset mini’s plus three 4″ ramekins.
Once they start to cool, the centers firm up a bit.
This was the best introduction I could’ve given my little Le Creuset’s; a decadent French-inspired dessert that showed them off. And let me just say, they were nowhere near as scary or tempermental as people say. But whatever you do, don’t let their reputation scare you. All you have to remember is that they’re to be eaten immediately, you can’t wait on these. You make them, serve them right the hell away, and that’s it. Don’t mess around.
Also, if you can be patient & plan your meal & plans around them, they’d make a Valentine’s Day dessert that’s sure to impress & take anyone’s breath away. Nobody has to know how crazy easy they are to make. And really, why the hell would you tell them? Screw ’em. Let ’em think it took you tons of prep & hours of sweat.