Add cream of tartar to the whites while beating; the acid stiffens and coagulates the egg-white protein, strengthening the walls of the bubbles. Sugar, used in sweet soufflÃ©s, also strengthens the bubbles.
Use a wire whisk attachment to introduce air into the whites evenly, creating tiny, strong bubbles.
Beat the whites just until stiff but moist-looking peaks form. If the whites are overbeaten, the walls of the air bubbles will be stretched out; they may burst when heated, collapsing the soufflÃ©.
Fold the white sauce gently but thoroughly into the beaten egg whites, using a flexible spatula. Overmixing, or folding with a heavy hand, may collapse the egg-white bubbles, leaving your soufflÃ© less than ethereal.
Bake the soufflÃ© in the right dish size for the best results. Classic soufflÃ© dishes aren’t necessary; you can also use deep casseroles or ovenproof bowls, though soufflÃ©s baked in bowls with sloping sides won’t rise as high as those in straight-sided dishes. Measure your dish’s capacity with water to determine its volume.
1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar, pepper jack, or GruyÃ¨re cheese (6 oz.)
6Â Â large eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Generously butter a 2-quart soufflÃ© dish or six 1- to 1 1/4-cup soufflÃ© dishes; if using small ones, set them about 2 inches apart in a 10- by 15-inch baking pan. In a 2- to 3-quart pan over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup butter. Add flour and stir until mixture is smooth and bubbling. Stir in milk, cayenne, and salt, and continue stirring until sauce boils and thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add egg yolks and stir until the mixture is blended and smooth. In a bowl, with a mixer on high speed, beat egg whites (use whisk attachment if available) with cream of tartar until short, stiff, moist peaks form. With a flexible spatula, fold a third of the cheese sauce into whites until well blended. Add remaining sauce and gently fold in just until blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared soufflÃ© dish (or dishes). If the dish is more than 3/4 full, use foil collar (see “Crowning Glory,” below). If desired, draw a circle on the surface of the soufflÃ© batter with the tip of a knife, about 1 inch in from rim, to help an attractive crown form during baking. Bake in a 375Â° regular or convection oven until top is golden to deep brown and cracks look fairly dry, 25 to 30 minutes for large soufflÃ©, 15 to 20 minutes for small ones. Serve immediately, scooping portions from single soufflÃ© with a large spoon.
SoufflÃ©s look most impressive when they rise dramatically over the rim of the dish. To create a beautiful crown on your soufflÃ©, fill the dish about 3/4 full. If it’s less full, the soufflÃ© may not rise over the rim. If it’s more full, the soufflÃ© may spill over unless you wrap the dish with a foil collar. Here’s how to make one.
Cut a 15-inch-wide sheet of foil 4 inches longer than circumference of dish; fold lengthwise in thirds. Coat one side of the foil strip generously with melted butter, using a pastry brush. Wrap the foil around outside of dish so that at least 2 inches of foil extend above the rim. Fold the ends of the buttered foil strip over several times until snug against dish.