James Beard Award-winning Cookbook Author

Vanilla Crepes Soufflés

What is a quick dessert with a few ingredients made ahead of time?

Souffés de Crêpes à La Vanille with Sauce au Chocolat.

Here is an elegant dessert that can be assembles in minutes for a special-occasion dinner, as most of the components can be made ahead.  Large crêpes, which you need to make ahead, are filled with a vanilla soufflé made from a pastry cream and baked for a few minutes,  The souffléd crepes, which puff magnificently, are complemented by a bittersweet Sauce au Chocolat.  Both the Crêpes and chocolate sauce can be made a day or two ahead.

What is a soufflé?

What I learned from Julia Child were the basics of making soufflés.  A soufflé has two parts:  a base, which carries all the flavor and must be seasoned strongly, and the whipped egg whites, which must be beaten correctly and incorporated int0 the base gently to maintain as much a air as possible.  Why? Because it’s the whites that are the active part of a soufflé, causing it to rise.  And, in French, souffle means “puffed up”.

How can crêpes be used?

Oh, the wonder of crêpes.  They are delicious on their own, with butter and sugar, with jam or Nutella, or rolled around a myriad of ingredients both sweet and savory.  And surprise, surprise, they are fabulous wrapped around soufflés.  Just remember the the batter needs to rest at least an hour-or up to one day- before you use it, so plan accordingly.

An easy chocolate sauce useful for many desserts.

The quick and easy bittersweet chocolate sauce is luscious poured over soufflés and ice cream.  Make a hole in the center of a soufflé and pour in a tablespoon or two of the sauce.

Vanilla Crêpes Soufflés

Ingredients
  

Crêpes

  • cups whole milk, plus more if needed
  • 3 large eggs
  • cups all-purpose flour (6¾ ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cups unsalted butter melted, cooled, plus more for cooking crepes.

Chocolate Sauce

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process, trained to remove lumps
  • ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar, strained to remove lumps
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pastry Cream

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • teaspoons cornstarch
  • teaspoon salt
  • ¼-½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Soufflé and Finishing

  • 4 large egg whites (½ cup), room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 6 large Crepes, 7 to 8 inches in diameter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • confectioners' sugar, for garnish
  • Sauce au Chocolat, room temperature
  • fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries (optional)

Instructions
 

For the crêpes

  • Put the milk, eggs, flour, salt, and ¼ cup melted butter into a blender jar and mix on low speed for 15 seconds. Scrape the jar to dislodge any flour and blend on high speed until completely smooth, about 30 seconds.
  • (Alternatively, if making by hand whisk the milk and eggs together in a large bowl. Add the flour gradually, whisking. Then whisk in the sugar and salt until very smooth. Whisk in the ¼ cup melted butter.)
  • Strain the batter through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl.
  • Cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • When ready to make crêpes, whisk the batter well, then adjust consistency, if necessary, by adding more milk; batter should be thin.
  • Ladle or spoon a scant ¼ cup batter into a dry ¼ cup measure and set aside.
  • Brush a 7-to 8-inch nonstick skillet or crêpe pan lightly with melted butter and set the pan over medium-high heat.
  • When hot, lift the pan by its handle, tilting the lip of the pan away from you. Pour batter onto the far end of the pan, then lift and rotate pan in all directions to make a crêpe that covers the bottom of the pan.
  • Set the pan back down on the burner. If any gaps remain in the crepe, you can always fill them in with drops of batter.
  • Cook until the crepe has a lacy edge that looks dry and turns a light brown, 30 to 45 seconds. Working quickly, loosen the edges of the crêpe with a metal spatula going all around the pan, lift up a far end of the crêpe with your fingers and flip it over towards you. Cook a few seconds more on the far side then slide the crepe onto a plate. (The original bottom of the crepe, the side facing you, should be nicely browned.
  • The first crêpe or two are always tests to judge the heat and batter consistency. You have more than enough batter for a few mistakes.
  • Continue making crêpes-no need to butter the pan after the first crêpe- and stacking them on top of each other until all the batter is used.
  • Can be made 1 to 2 days ahead, wrapped and refrigerated, or frozen up to 1 month.

For the chocolate sauce

  • Whisk together the cocoa, both sugars, and salt in a medium heavy saucepan.
  • Whisk in ⅓ cup water until smooth, then whisk in remaining water.
  • Bring sauce to the boil over medium-high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in the chopped chocolate, butter, and vanilla until smooth.
  • Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate. Reheat briefly before serving, if desired. (Can be prepared 2 to 3 weeks ahead)
  • note-The Vanilla Crêpes Soufflé recipe calls for this sauce to be room temperature.

For the pastry cream

  • For the pastry cream, bring milk to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat; do not let it bubble over. Keep milk hot.
  • Put the egg yolks into a medium bowl and beat with a hand-held electric mixer on medium speed until they begin to thicken about 1 minute.
  • Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar, raise speed to medium-high, and continue beating until the yolks are thick and pale, 3 to 5 minutes more.
  • On low speed, beat in flour cornstarch, and salt. Add 2 tablespoons sugar to the hot milk and stir to dissolve.
  • With the mixer on low, slowly add milk to the egg yolks and continue beating until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the bowl to make sure the pastry cream is thoroughly blended.
  • Transfer pastry cream base to the milk saucepan. Set pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Continue boiling and whisking until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  • Scrape pastry cream into a medium bowl and whisk in the vanilla paste or extract. Press a round of wax or parchment paper directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming.

For the Soufflé

  • Adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and reheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt on medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute.
  • Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 2 tablespoons sugar, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks, 1 to 2 minutes,
  • Whisk one-fourth of the egg whites into the pastry cream to lighten. Pile on remaining whites and fold in only until no white streaks remain.
  • Lightly butter a 17 x 12 x 1-inch rimmed baking sheet.
  • With a long side facing you, drape one crêpe with its best side facing down over upper left edge of the sheet so that half of the crêpe is resting on sheet and other half is having over edge. Spoon one-sixth of the soufflé batter in a strip on the part of the crêpe resting on the sheet, fold remaining half of the crêpe over the soufflé to cover it and make a half-moon shape.
  • Set another crêpe with best side facing down over the filled crêpe so that half of the crêpe rests on the soufflé-filled crêpe and the other half rest on the sheet. Spoon one-fifth of the remaining souffle batter in a strip on the part of the crepe resting on the baking sheet, and fold the unfilled portion of crêpe over the soufflé as before to make anther half-moon shape.
  • At this point you will have two filled crêpes on the left side of the baking sheet. Repeat these instructions to make 2 filled crêpes down the center of the pan and 2 on the right side of the pan.
  • The baking sheet will have two long rows of 3 crêpes each. Brush with melted butter and dust with confectioners' sugar.
  • Bake until the soufflé filling is puffed and set.
  • Using a large metal spatula, transfer each crêpe soufflé to a dessert plate. Dust Crêpes again with confectioners' sugar and drizzle with Sauce au Chocolat. Add a few berries, if you like. Serve immediately.


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