This classic chocolate souffle is incredibly rich in chocolate flavor yet light and fluffy. Learn the easy process of how to make chocolate souffle from scratch!
Chocolate Souffle Overview
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Techniques Used: Simple Meringue, Folding Egg Whites
A chocolate souffle is a rich chocolate dessert made from a thick chocolate sauce combined with whipped egg whites. The egg whites made the souffle rise up a great deal in the oven.
Chocolate souffles are served warm and are often paired with a simple whipped cream or creme anglaise (which is basically melted ice cream). Chocolate souffles must be served as soon as they come out of the oven because they will start deflating immediately.
What is a Souffle?
All souffles are made up of two components: a very flavorful base sauce and an egg white foam. For a chocolate souffle the base is a rich chocolate sauce and the egg foam is a simple meringue.
These two components are folded together to create the batter for the souffle. The air that is whipped into the egg whites provides all of the leavening for the souffle. Air expands rapidly when heated and will cause the souffle to rise a great deal in the oven.
Can a Souffle be Prepared in Advance?
Souffles are one of the things in baking that must be prepared pretty close to when they will be baked and they must be served immediately. There is a saying that “you must wait for a souffle, but a souffle cannot wait for you.”
The souffle batter can be prepared up to 90 minutes in advance of when it will be baked without losing any significant volume. I like to add cream of tartar into my egg white foam to help stabilize the meringue so it can buy me some time.
Souffles do not hold up to freezing or being prepared far in advance of when they will be served. However, you can prepare the batter and fill your souffle dishes and hold them in the refrigerator for some time. You can then pop them in the oven while the main course is finishing up.
What is the Difference Between a Chocolate Souffle and a Molten Lava Cake?
A chocolate souffle and a molten chocolate lava cake do have a somewhat similar final product. However a souffle is much lighter and airier than a lava cake.
A souffle is leavened with air and produces a very fluffy final product with a slightly molten center. A lava cake is a little more dense and has a much more molten center to it.
What Kind of Dish do you Bake a Chocolate Souffle In?
Truthfully, a souffle can be baked in any dish that has high sides. There are dishes that are made specifically for souffles, however a ramekin, a bowl, or even a coffee cup could all be used to bake a souffle in.
Souffles can be baked as one large dish to then be divided up or in individual dishes. I prefer to use individual dishes for souffles as it is easier and prettier to serve this way.
How to Make a Chocolate Souffle
Step 1: Prep Souffle Dishes
To prepare your souffle dishes, coat them well with softened butter. Make sure every surface of the dish is completely covered so that the souffle doesn’t stick and it can rise nice and high.
Additionally, I like to sprinkle sugar in my dishes to add a nice contrast of texture to the outside of the souffle. You could also dust them with cocoa powder.
Step 2: Prepare Chocolate Base
The base for the chocolate souffle is a rich, thick, chocolate sauce. You want to use a chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa because the egg whites will dilute the flavor. Somewhere between 65-75%. I use a 70% chocolate for my souffles.
Melt the chocolate slowly with the butter, until it is smooth and glossy. You can do this over a double boiler, or by melting in the microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring in between. Set aside the cool slightly. 2
Step 3: Whip Egg Whites
When you whip egg whites, you want to start with them at room temperature for the highest volume. Whip the egg whites by themselves first until you are getting close to medium peaks.
Then start slowly streaming in the sugar. The sugar will stabilize the egg whites but it can inhibit them whipping up to a high volume if you add it in the beginning.
You can also add a pinch of cream of tartar at the end to further stabilize the egg whites. If you will be baking your souffles immediately, then you can omit this.
Step 4: Combine Base & Egg Whites
Stir the egg yolks into the cooled melted chocolate. Then proceed with folding the egg whites into the melted chocolate.
Start by adding about 1/2 cup of egg whites to the chocolate mixture and stir it in completely to lighten the mixture. This will make it easier to fold the rest of the egg whites in.
Add about 1/2 of the remaining egg whites into the bowl with the chocolate and gently fold them in. Refer to the video for a demonstration on how to properly fold. Add the rest of the egg whites in and fold those in as well.
Step 5: Bake
Fill the ramekins evenly with the chocolate souffle mixture. This will be enough to fill 4- 5 oz ramekins almost completely. See the recipe notes for halving the recipe for only 2 souffles.
Bake the souffles at 400 F. This high heat will cause the air in the egg whites to expand rapidly to make them rise. It is important that you do not open the oven door until almost the end of baking to check to see if they are done.
Step 6: Serve
These souffles are delicious as is, but can be topped simply with powdered sugar, whipped cream, or ice cream. The do need to be served almost immediately when they come out of the oven as they will start to fall.
Chocolate Souffle FAQ
- Can you freeze a souffle? Souffles do not hold up to being frozen. The air will deflate out of the egg whites and they will not rise in the oven. They really need to be prepared within about 90 minutes of when they will be baked.
- Can you prep chocolate souffles in advance? The souffle batter can be prepped up to 90 minutes before being baked and stored in the refrigerator.
- Do you use cocoa powder in a chocolate souffle? Cocoa powder is not typically used in a chocolate souffle. Melted dark chocolate is typically used for the base of a chocolate souffle.
- What kind of chocolate should I use in my souffle? You want the chocolate base of your souffle to be very strong in flavor because the egg whites will dilute the flavor. Use a chocolate with a percentage around 65-75 %
For the Chocolate Base
- 4 oz (113 gr) good quality dark chocolate (around 65-75%), chopped
- 1 TBSP (14 gr) unsalted butter
- large pinch of salt
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
For the Egg White Foam
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1/4 cup (50 gr) granulated sugar
- pinch of cream of tartar (optional, but recommended if not baking immediately)
Note: The batter for these souffles can be prepped a maximum of 90 minutes before baking, but no longer. The must be baked within that time frame or they will not rise well. If you do not bake them immediately, make sure you add the cream of tartar into your egg whites to help stabilize them.
- Prep: Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C) and position a rack in the bottom 1/3rd of your oven. I use the second rack from the bottom. Prepare 4- 5 oz ramekins by buttering them liberally with softened butter. Make sure every surface is covered. Dust the buttered ramekins with granulated sugar or cocoa powder. Set aside on a baking sheet. Measure out all of your ingredients and group them by chocolate base and by egg foam.
- Prepare Chocolate Base: Place the chopped chocolate, unsalted butter, and pinch of salt in a medium mixing bowl. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring thoroughly in between. Set aside to cool slightly before adding the egg yolks.
- Prepare Egg White Foam: In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, begin beating the egg whites at high speed. Beat until the whites are almost holding medium peaks. Turn the mixer speed down to medium and slowly stream in the sugar. Once the sugar is incorporated turn the speed back up to high. Once the whites are almost at stiff peaks, add the cream of tartar if using. Stop beating when the whites still look glossy and are holding stiff peaks. If your whites look dry and crumbly, you have gone too far and you need to start over with fresh egg whites.
- Combine Chocolate Base & Egg Whites: Stir the egg yolks into the slightly cooled chocolate base. Start by adding about 1/2 cup (doesn't need to be exact) of the egg whites into the chocolate base and stir it in completely to lighten the mixture. This will make it easier to fold in the rest of the egg whites. Add about half of the remaining egg whites and gently fold them into the chocolate base, being careful not the deflate the air out of them. Add the rest of the egg whites in and fold until incorporated.
- Bake: Divide the mixture evenly between your ramekins. This will fill 4- 5 oz ramekins almost completely to the top. Use an off set spatula or a butter knife the smooth the batter out on top. You can place the prepped souffles in the refrigerator covered loosely with plastic wrap for about 90 minutes before baking if needed. Bake at 400 F (205 C) for 12-15 minutes. Do not open the oven for the first 12 minutes or your souffles might fall! Check the souffles at 12 minutes and give the sheet pan a little jiggle. They should jiggle just slightly in the center.
- Serve immediately! They will start deflating as soon as they come out of the oven.
- If you would like to halve the recipe and make only two souffles, you will want to use about 1 1/2 egg whites. Measure out your first egg white and discard about half of it. It is okay if it isn't exact. Then add a second whole egg white to your measured out half egg white.