Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

soufflé has been part of the French dessert repertoire since at least the time of Vincent La Chapelle’s Cuisinier moderne (1733–1735). A soufflé is made of stiffly beaten egg whites that are gently folded into a sauce base and baked. The heat of the oven expands the air bubbles trapped in the beaten egg whites, causing the mixture to puff up above the sides of the baking dish. The name derives from the French word souffle, meaning breath. This delicate confection must be served as soon as it comes out of the oven, as it will collapse when it begins to cool. The necessary precision in timing is why restaurants ask that a dessert soufflé be ordered at the beginning of the meal. Dessert soufflés can have either a cream or a fruit purée base, for which there are many possible formulas, with the choice of flavorings being almost endless. Chocolate and lemon are two of the most common flavors. The top is dusted with confectioner’s sugar as the soufflé comes out of the oven, and the dessert is often served with a sauce, such as crème anglaise. Any kind of macerated or cooked fruit (e.g., peaches, raspberries, apricots, oranges) works well, as do various nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, or a mixture of roasted chopped nuts). Other typical flavorings include liqueur, vanilla, crushed pralines, and macarons. See macarons.