Valentine's Day always calls for a special meal and Bill can tell you I've definitely had some hits and misses. When we haven't gone out on Valentine's Day, I've always tried to make a fancy (or, of late, fancier) dinner.
While dinner needs to be something special, for those of us with a sweet tooth, dessert is arguably more important than the main course. Four or five years ago I topped off our Valentine's dinner with homemade crepes. And while they're not Bill's favorite dessert, they were certainly a home run. I was so impressed with myself then that I haven't attempted a very complicated dessert since!
Tonight's dinner wasn't outrageously special (I'll make the menu a separate post later this week), but I decided to up the ante with dessert again this year. I debated a few options and eventually landed on Grand Marnier souffles because, well ... they just sound romantic. Don't they??
Now, I've never eaten a souffle, much less cooked one, but I was well aware that they're complicated. I've seen many a meal in the movies botched by a fallen souffle, so I had a reasonable expectation of failure. Still, I like a challenge :)
Grand Marnier Souffles
2 tablespoons sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place a baking sheet in oven.
Spray ramekins with cooking spray and coat with sugar.
In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, beat egg yolks until light in color and thick, about 5 minutes. Add 1/8 cup sugar and beat until thick, about 2 minutes. Beat in Grand Marnier and vanilla.
In another bowl, beat egg whites until foamy, about one minute. Add cream of tartar and salt. Beat until stiff peaks form. Add remaining 1/8 cup sugar, one tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form again.
Stir 1/4 of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Fold remaining egg whites into egg yolks. Pour into prepared ramekins.
Place ramekins on baking sheet in oven and bake 10 minutes, until tall and golden brown. Souffles should rise 1 1/2 to 2 inches above rims of ramekins.
Remove from oven and dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve immediately.
Dishes that are supposed to rise always make me nervous, for obvious reasons. But coming out of the oven my souffles looked beautiful! They were tall and golden and light ... and promptly fell. I'm sure that either my egg whites weren't stiff enough or I wasn't gentle enough in folding them in to the yolks. You have to have such a light, careful hand and be scientifically exact with things like this. Nonetheless, they tasted great and made a Valentine's dessert to remember!