Culinary Arts Project

Mousses and Soufflés, Pate a Choux and The Exodus – Day 29


  • Butter your ramekin with upward strokes, this gives the soufflé ‘channels’ along which to rise.
  • Preheat your oven 25 degrees above the called for amount. Opening the oven door reduces the temperature by at least this much, often more. Then lower to correct temperature.
  • Whip cream over an ice bath for quicker better results.

Today was mousses and soufflés. I’m a big chocolate mousse fan so I was looking forward to today. Basically mousses and soufflés are dishes that are ‘mechanically levitated’, through the structure of whipped eggs whites. Mousses are cold so its straight up egg whites that are elevating them, soufflés are heated, so its steam within in the egg white structure that’s doing the elevating.

Chef Joh and Chef April race to see you can whip their eggs fastest
Chef Joh and Chef April race to see you can whip their eggs fastest

First on the agenda was the classic chocolate mousse. It’s really just a French meringue (cold whipped egg whites and sugar), mixed together with melted chocolate and whipped cream. This tasted good, but nowhere near like my mothers (which doesn’t use whipped cream, but is enriched with egg yolks, and orange liqueur). Mum’s is also a non-dairy alternative which goes better with some stomachs.

These last few days are a bit confusing, because in the middle of learning basic principles of one dish, in comes a random dough. Today’s was cream puff pastry, or pate a choux. This was the most un-dough like dough. Water, butter, salt and sugar are all boiled, then flour is added, and then one by one egg yolks are added until “the Israelites make it through but the Egyptians don’t”. What this refers to is the consistency – if you pass your finger through it, the dough should close up behind it, but not too quickly. This dough was then piped out into profiteroles and éclaires.

Alton checks out the Charcuterie buffet for lunch today
Alton checks out the Charcuterie buffet for lunch today

Then back to the soufflés. We made congruently a chocolate and cheese soufflé. Nina made the cheese base from a béchamel (flour, butter, milk), grated gryere, cayenne and nutmeg. I made the chocolate base from a beure manie (flour, butter), plus milk, dark chocolate, vanilla and rum (I added double). Then both bases were folded into egg whites, popped into pre-greased ramekins, and in the oven for 15 mins. They came out perfect, but had already started to flomp by the time we got to Chef John for assessment. I’ve never been a huge fan of chocolate soufflé (though there seems to be a big todo about them all the time), and ours was fine, it was the cheese soufflé that tasted fantastic. Today definitely solidified the simplicity of soufflés and mousses in my mind. They aren’t that complicated. A base, mixed into egg whites of some form, and either cooked or not.

We’re all going a bit ‘stir’ crazy, whipping up our eggs

In all the freneticism (sp?), we got our Bavarian creams and our frozen fruit soufflés back, and made a pastry base with our previously folded pate feuilletées. Apparently tomorrow is another mayhem day – we have an exam, and then we’re making tarts and quiches, but I’m looking forward to it.





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