Cheese Soufflé

Serves 4 to 6

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Our richly flavored, entrée- worthy soufflé au fromage is as easy to prepare as it is impressive. In our quest for perfection, some of the recipes we tried turned out cheese soufflés that were overly squat and dense; others were so light and ethereal that they were hardly substantial enough for a meal. Still others had negligible cheese flavor. We wanted a cheese soufflé boasting not only stature but also enough substance to serve as a main course, with a distinctive cheese flavor and contrasting textures in the form of a crispy, nicely browned crust and a moist, almost custardy center. Although the thickening power of a béchamel provides stability, it also adds weight, so we dialed back the amounts of butter and flour. We whipped the egg whites to stiff peaks and then whipped the cheese mixture into the stiff-peaked whites for the end result of “medium peaks.” Comté, sharp cheddar, or gouda cheese can be substituted for the Gruyère. To prevent the soufflé from overflowing the dish, leave at least 1 inch of space between the top of the batter and the rim of the dish; any excess batter should be discarded.

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (½ cup), divided

¼ cup (1¼ ounces) all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon table salt

 teaspoon cayenne pepper

 teaspoon ground white pepper Pinch ground nutmeg

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1⅓cups whole milk

6 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (1½ cups)

6 large eggs, separated

2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley, divided

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

 

1 Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2-quart soufflé dish with vegetable oil spray, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Parmesan.

2 Whisk flour, paprika, salt, cayenne, white pepper, and nutmeg together in bowl. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour mixture and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk and bring to simmer. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and smooth, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and whisk in Gruyère and 5 tablespoons Parmesan until melted and smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes, then whisk in egg yolks and 1½ teaspoons parsley.

3 Using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Add cheese mixture and continue to whip until fully combined, about 15 seconds longer.

4 Transfer mixture to prepared dish and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Bake until risen above rim, top is deep golden brown, and interior is thick and creamy but not soupy, 30 to 35 minutes. (To check doneness, use 2 large spoons to gently pull open top and peek inside.) Sprinkle with remaining ½ teaspoon parsley and serve immediately.

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