Souffles can be intimidating, but if you just break them down into a few simple components and steps, they are a breeze. Most dessert soufflés really just have two main parts – the base (flavoring component), and the meringue (whipped egg whites and sugar that make it puff up).
The pear soufflé is a good one because pears make an elegant dessert in any fashion, and there’s a very good chance that none of your guests will have ever had it before. It’s great with a crème anglaise, or you could do a cheese plate (think gorgonzola…). Or do it straight up with a nice dessert wine.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup sugar + 1 T per souffle
- 2-3 ripe sweet pears, peeled, pitted, chopped—must be ripe
- 1/2 cup sparkling wine
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (I like Mexican vanilla)
- 1 shot of Poire William liqueur (optional, b/c it’s so hard to find)
- 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 4 egg whites
Prep: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Prep four eight-ounce ramekins by lightly rubbing butter along the insides. Sprinkle with sugar to coat.
The Base: Saute the chopped pear in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sparkling wine, honey, and vanilla. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until the pear chunks are cooked down to a thick purée. Remove from heat.
Put the puree in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the purée through a wire mesh sieve over a bowl. You will have to work it through the sieve with the back of a spoon or spatula. Whisk in the egg yolks. You can add the Poire William if you have it. Set this aside. (This can be done in advance, and refrigerated).
The Meringue: Whisk the egg whites in a mixer until they begin to stiffen. Add the sugar, continue whipping until you get just stiff peaks. Don’t over whip.
Fold ¼ or so of the meringue into the purée mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the rest of the egg whites. Spoon some into each of the ramekin, but DO NOT overfill. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake for 10-14 minutes until the soufflés have risen and are slightly brown on top. Give them time to really rise up high.
Optional variation: Slice a pear ¼ inch thick, poach lightly in champagne and butter, then place one slice of pear on the bottom of each ramekin before pouring in the mixture.