I am currently writing to you from underneath the majority of my winter clothing, plus a fuzzy blanket, as I shiver in my office while the HVAC guy tromps through the house for the third time this week, trying to get our under-performing heater back up to snuff. It’s not totally dead, as the house is still liveable, but it does have a tendency to spew cold air when it should be sending warm… And guess where my desk is? Yep, right under the air vent! So yesterday my plan of attack was to bake up a storm, so that standing by the warm oven would keep me as warm as possible until the heater got fixed. While the baking definitely helped, the problem has still not been found, and the pumpkin pie soufflé I made yesterday was so amazing, I had to share it with you immediately, cold air be darned!
This pumpkin delight began early this month, while I was hanging out with my aunt down in SC, as I hinted at in my Perfect Dippy Eggs post the other week. While my first trial run at my recipe came out beautifully puffed and light, with that lovely hint of spice and pumpkin, it didn’t really taste like a dessert per se, and I wanted it to taste like a cloud of pumpkin pie. So yesterday I amped it up, and now it is FANTASTIC! Seriously, it’s the pumpkin pie replacement for all those who dislike pie crust or custard, as it has all the pumpkin sweetness you could desire, not to mention it is way more impressive as you pull it out of the oven!
Now, I know what many of you may be saying,”Soufflé??? Are you kidding me, I haven’t even baked a loaf of bread, why start with a soufflé of all things? Isn’t that supposed to be hard for professional chefs?” My answer to you is take a deep breath, remember that I, too, have had NO formal training, and let me share something earth-shattering: it’s not half as hard as it seems… And if you give yourself a little grace to mess up, even if you do fail to get that mile high puffed top, or it comes out lumpy, or it deflates before you can get it to the table, it will still taste AH-mazing! Cross-my-heart-hope-to-die-stick-a-needle-in-my-eye, I promise this is worth the effort. In fact, I think it’s faster and easier than making an actual pumpkin pie from scratch! Case & Point: no par-baking a crust, or making a crust at all!
The magic key to a soufflé is in the egg whites. Make sure you start with SUPER clean bowls, whisks, and spatulas – I even do an extra wipe with a vinegar-soaked paper towel to dispel any remaining bits of grease. Then all you have to do is keep whisking until you get a true stiff peak. The test of a true stiff peak? You should be able to lift your whisk out of the egg whites, turn the whisk upside down, and the tip of the whites will stand straight up to the sky, no drooping at all (if it’s drooping you’ve achieved a “soft” peak). Do those two things & I believe it will be an impressive success every time.