Fearlessness and Julia Child’s Cheese Souffle – November 2010 Daring Cooks Challenge


Julia Child's Cheese Souffle

The Daring Cooks challenge this month from Dave and Linda of Monkeyshines in the Kitchen was to make souffle, and I knew without hesitation what I would make. There is no better cheese souffle than Julia’s. It is light and airy and yet rich and  buttery at the same time, and, well, words fail me here – amazing.

For anyone who loves to cook, Julia Child recipes are  not just recipes but almost a  religious experience. This is going to sound much to gushy, I can already feel it. But. When you make Julia’s recipes straight from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, you feel as if you have a connection with her.

The word “souffle” has always stricken my heart with fear. It is the culinary Tri-athalon. The mother of all cooking challenges.

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
— Julia Child

So, there you have it. MUST. MAKE. SOUFFLE.

When you make a souffle, you feel like you are really cooking, you are actually transforming ingredients into a whole new entity, not just heating things up. It is such a feeling of pride and accomplishment when that puffy bit of culinary magic comes rolling out of the oven!

I learned several things in this challenge. 1) Souffles are harder than they look. 2) Souffles are very tempermental. 3) The right pan makes all the difference. If I had used a smaller, more vertical pan, the height and texture of the pan would have been better.  4) Souffles are yummy even if done imperfectly.

Thanks Dave and Linda, for a very illuminating challenge!

And, as Julia would say: Bon Appetit!

Julia Child’s Cheese Soufflé

2 Tbs finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, or other hard cheese
2 ½ Tbs unsalted butter, plus more for buttering dish
3 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk, hot
½ tsp paprika
A pinch of nutmeg
½ tsp salt
3 grinds of freshly ground pepper
4 egg yolks (from large eggs)
5 egg whites (from large eggs)
1 cup (3 ½ ounces) coarsely grated cheese, such as gruyère or sharp cheddar

Generously butter a 7 ½- to 8-inch diameter soufflé dish. Roll the grated Parmigiano Reggiano in the buttered baking dish to cover the bottom and side. Set the oven rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

To make the béchamel:
Over moderate heat, melt 2 ½ Tbs butter in a 2 ½-quart saucepan; then blend in the flour with a wooden spoon to make a smooth but somewhat loose paste. Stir until the butter and flour foam together for two minutes without coloring to more than a buttery yellow. Remove from heat. When the bubbling stops, in a few seconds, pour in the hot milk all at once, whisking vigorously to blend. Place the saucepan over moderately high heat, whisking rather slowly, reaching all over the bottom and sides of the pan, until the sauce comes to the simmer. Simmer two to three minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the sauce is very thick and coats a spoon nicely. Whisk in the seasonings, and remove from heat. Whisk the egg yolks into the hot sauce one by one, transfer sauce to a large bowl, and set it aside.

To finish:
In a clean bowl and with clean beaters, beat the egg whites to stiff shining peaks. Scoop a quarter of the egg whites into the bowl with the sauce, and stir together with a wooden spoon. Turn the rest of the egg whites on top; rapidly and delicately, fold them in with a rubber spatula, alternating scoops of the spatula with sprinkles of the coarsely grated cheese. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, and use your spatula to trace a circle in the top of the batter, just inside the rim of the dish. This will help the soufflé to rise freely.

Place the soufflé in the oven, and turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake about 25 to 30 minutes (without opening the oven), until the soufflé has puffed one to three inches over the rim of the baking dish and the top has browned nicely. Serve immediately, because yes, it will deflate within a few minutes. To serve without crushing it, use two serving spoons pointed down and back-to-back; plunge them into the crust and tear it apart.

Serves four.

Here’s a sampling made by Daring Cooks:

Use an unusual cheese in a Spinach and Bleu Cheese Souffle, A Little Leaven
Remodeling your kitchen and have no oven? No Problem! See Cheap Ethnic Eatz Microwave Souffle
Make a last-minute Cheese Souffle like in Anula’s Kitchen
The tallest Souffle ever: Rocket and Cheese Souffle by Lemon and Cheese
For dessert Milk Chocolate Souffle with Nougat Whip, Cooking with Z
First souffle attempt Chocolate Souffle, Thru the Bugs on My Window
Is it Sweet or Savory? You decide: Pear and Bleu Cheese Souffle, Breaking Bread
Walk on the Wild Side with a Cheese and Wild Mushroom Souffle, Edible Experiments
Another blogger went classic with Julia’s Souffle: La Kocinera
Don’t Eat Eggs? Make the Eggless Souffle by Veggie Wiz
And, as expected, a dazzling post by Audax Artifex: Gorgonzola, Watercress, Oyster Sauce and Garlic Souffle

— posted by Donna


  1. sarah says

    Does anyone know what recipe Julia Childs is cooking on a scene from the movie “Desperately seeking Susan?” The wife comes home and turns on a taped Julia show. The ingredients appear to be 6 eggs, grated onion, flour, cheddar cheese, tobasco, and cracked pepper.

  2. says

    So funny that both of ours didn’t work well because we used the wrong size pan. I didn’t post my chocolate souffle because I burned it. Used a 4 cup instead of a 6 cup pan and it was done much quicker than I thought it would be. Now I’m wishing I would have posted it because we just cut off the top and it tasted yummy even if it wasn’t perfect -just like yours!

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