When I learned to cook as a young girl, soufflés became quite popular. But, to the average cook, making a soufflé could be quite a challenge, perhaps something to fear.
The light and airy egg-based dish originated in France in the 1700s. Primary ingredients are eggs and milk or cream, but one’s choice of other ingredients determines whether it will be a savory main dish or sweet dessert.
The average American may have first become aware of the soufflé when Audrey Hepburn starred in the classic 1954 movie “Sabrina.” There was a scene in which she attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. The class was learning the art of making a soufflé. She failed miserably. That happened only because her mind was elsewhere — on the love she left behind in New York — and she forgot to turn on the oven.
I believe broad awareness of the soufflé came about in the 1960s and ’70s when Julia Child came to fame with her television show, “The French Chef.” My mother, an avid fan, watched the show, had all of Julia’s cookbooks and often tried her recipes — the cheese soufflé among them.
This is not a dish one makes in a hurry. It takes time but doesn’t prove as difficult as one might believe. It works well served as brunch, lunch or a light supper served with salad.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Position rack in lower third of the oven. Butter a 1-1/2-quart soufflé dish and coat it with the Parmigiano.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Gradually whisk in the cream and bring to a low boil over moderate heat, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook until very thick, about 3 minutes. Transfer the roux to a large bowl and let cool. Stir in the egg yolks, cheese, salt and chives.
Put the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the cream of tartar. Using the whipping attachment, beat the whites until firm peaks form. Fold in the whites until the streaks of white disappear.
Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the soufflé is golden brown and puffed. To test for doneness, insert a kitchen needle into the center. If it comes out wet, cook another 2 or 3 minutes.