When Louisiana strawberries are in season (late winter to early spring), we all look for ways to use them. (Assuming I can beat my daughter Mary Leigh, the Princess of Strawberries, to them.) I love hot soufflees, which are nowhere near as complicated to make as you may have been led to believe. They are, however, every bit as luscious and impressive as they are reputed to be. Just be sure everybody’s at the table waiting when they come out of the oven, because they must be eaten immediately.
Soufflee dishes are a must for this. Nothing else works well. The dishes should hold about a cup and a half each.
- 1 1/2 pints ripe strawberries
- 8 eggs, separated
- 1 cup sugar, minus 2 Tbs.
- 2 Tbs. orange juice, strained
- 1 Tbs. Kirschwasser (optional)
- 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
- Powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
1. Reserve three large, good-looking strawberries. Wash and hull the rest. Don’t use any that are even slightly less than perfectly ripe. Put them into a food processor and puree.
2. In a mixer bowl, combine the strawberry puree, 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup of sugar, orange juice, and Kirschwasser. Beat until smooth and creamy.
4. Butter the insides of six soufflee dishes. (Don’t be shy about this: err on the side of too much butter.) Add about a teaspoon of powdered sugar to the soufflee dishes, covering the inside. Shake out the excess.
5. With completely clean, grease-free beaters or a wire whisk, beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar until peaks begin to form. Add the rest of the sugar, and beat until dissolved and the meringue is stiff.
6. Blend about a fourth of the meringue into the strawberry mixture with a rubber spatula. Then blend the strawberry mixture into the meringue, as gently as possible. Don’t worry if the blend is not uniform
7. Divide the mixture among the soufflee dishes. Place all the dishes in a large pan so you can get them in and out quickly. Bake for fifteen minutes starting at 425 degrees, reducing the heat to 400 for the last seven minutes. Don’t open the oven during the baking process.
8. Slice the reserved strawberries into thin slices. Dust the tops of the soufflees with powdered sugar, then top with a few thin slices of fresh strawberry. Serve immediately.