RECIPE: National Chocolate Soufflé Day

February 28 was National Chocolate Soufflé Day, and there is nothing better on a cold winter night than a perfectly made, warm chocolate soufflé. It happens to be my favorite dessert of all times. It can be difficult to find restaurants who make it because of the time involved. It’s a labor of love.

I discovered that La Coquille restaurant on Northern Boulevard in Manhasset has been making dessert soufflés since it opened in October 1969. Although the restaurant, which serves “modern European cuisine with deep roots in French heritage,” has had its share of owners and chefs over the past nearly 50 years, one thing has remained the same–their soufflé recipes.

Executive chef Freddy Ceron offers three – chocolate with chocolate sauce, vanilla with vanilla sauce and a luxurious Grand Marnier soufflé, one of their most popular. Soufflés must be ordered in advance and are $15. For orders of two or more, they are $12 each.

If you can’t make it over to La Coquille, here is a recipe from the Food Network Kitchen so you can try your hand at making a chocolate soufflé yourself.

Chocolate Soufflé
Total Time: 50 min; Prep: 30 min; Cook: 20 min
Yield: 6 individual servings
Level: Intermediate

7 ounces finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus for preparing the molds
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons warm water
1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
8 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Confectioners’ sugar for garnish

Brush 6 (6-ounce) ramekins with soft butter, then coat with sugar. Put the prepared ramekins in the freezer. (This can be done a day ahead.)

Set an oven rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

Put the chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Set aside.

Combine the egg yolks and warm water in the bowl of a standing mixer or large bowl and beat until frothy. Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar, and continue beating until ribbons form, about 5 minutes. Very lightly fold the yolks into the chocolate mixture. (Rinse the bowl well, if using for beating the egg whites.)

Remove prepared ramekins from freezer. Put the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer, or large non-reactive bowl, add the lemon juice. Beat on medium until frothy; then gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and increase speed to high. Beat until the whites hold a stiff but not dry peak.

Working quickly, fold about a third of the egg whites into the chocolate to lighten; then fold in remaining whites until blended. Gently ladle or spoon the soufflé mixture into the ramekins, and place on a baking sheet. (Level off the surface with a straight edge, scraping any excess mixture back into the bowl.)

Immediately bake until the soufflés rises about 1 1/2 inches from the ramekins, and the tops are touched with brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.