It’s hard to describe how much I love these puffy little morsels; with a slightly crusted, cheesy exterior the first bite reveals an inside that is light-as-air yet decadently rich. If serving 6 people this recipe makes an ideal lunch accompanied by a small bitter green salad, or for an entree you will want to make the portion sizes smaller to serve 8.
200 grams cauliflower cut into small florets (about ¼ large cauliflower)
50 ml white wine
150 ml cream
1 clove garlic, crushed
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1½ cups milk
1 bay leaf
sprig of thyme
25 grams butter
4 tablespoons plain flour
½ cup firmly packed grated Gruyère
4 eggs, separated
½ cup grated Gruyère
300 ml cream
6 x 1½ cup-capacity ovenproof ramekins, greased and bases lined with baking paper
Cauliflower: Put the cauliflower in a medium sauté pan and add the wine, cream and garlic and season. Cook over a gentle heat for 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and most of the cream has reduced. Cool for 10 minutes then blend in a food processor until smooth. Set aside.
Sauce: Put the milk into a medium saucepan with the bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a simmer over a gentle heat for 5 minutes then strain into a jug. Don’t rinse the saucepan.
Melt the butter in the same saucepan over a gentle heat and whisk in the flour. Whisking continuously, pour in half of the milk, adding the remainder once it thickens. Continue whisking over the heat until the sauce is thick and smooth. Stir in the Gruyère cheese, whisk well and remove from the heat. Whisk in the egg yolks, then combine with the cauliflower puree, stirring to incorporate well. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt, to firm peaks. Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the cauliflower mixture, folding in to loosen the mixture slightly then add the rest of the egg whites, folding in gently.
Divide the mixture between the ramekins and place in a small roasting dish. Pour very hot but not boiling water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for 25 minutes until the soufflés are risen and lightly golden. Do not panic if they are slightly one-sided or have burst a little at the top.
Remove the ramekins from the roasting dish and allow to cool for one hour – they will deflate and settle down. Once cooled, run a small knife carefully around the inside of the ramekins to release the soufflés slightly, and tip out into another roasting dish or individual ovenproof dishes and store in the fridge until ready to finish and serve. Soufflés can be prepared to this point the day before serving.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
To finish: Sprinkle the soufflés with the Gruyère and pour over the cream. Bake for 12–15 minutes until the soufflés are lightly puffed and golden. Switch the oven to grill for the last minute (keeping an eagle eye on them!) to ensure a golden, bubbling top.
To serve: Place the soufflés on individual plates and drizzle any of the cooked cream left in the roasting dish around the base. Serve with a small salad of bitter greens.