Add cream of tartar to the whites while beating; the acid stiffens and coagulates the egg-white protein, strengthening the walls of 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.
Notes: Use dried tomatoes that are moist, soft, and pliable; if they aren’t, soak them in hot water until soft, 5 to 15 minutes, then squeeze out water. Or use oil-packed tomatoes and squeeze out the oil. You can prepare the dishes (step 1), make the sauce (step 2), and separate the eggs up to 4 hours ahead; cover sauce and eggs separately and chill. Stir the chilled white sauce over low heat until hot before proceeding with step 3.
1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup thawed frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup finely chopped dried tomatoes
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
8 large eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Generously butter a 2 1/2- to 3-quart soufflÃ© dish or six 1 1/2- to 2-cup soufflÃ© dishes. If using small dishes, 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 butter. Add flour and stir until mixture is smooth and bubbling. Stir in milk, tarragon, and salt, and continue stirring until sauce boils and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Add corn and dried tomatoes and stir until hot, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Add egg yolks and stir until 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 batter into prepared soufflÃ© dish (or dishes). If higher than 3/4 full, use a 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 large soufflÃ© in a 350Â° regular or 325Â° convection oven until top is golden to deep brown and cracks look fairly dry, 35 to 40 minutes. Bake small soufflÃ©s in a 375Â° regular or convection oven, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately, scooping portions from single soufflÃ© with a large spoon. Pass the shrimp-onion relish to spoon over each serving as desired.
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.