3 1/2 tablespoons strong espresso, freshly brewed
5 oz bittersweet chocolate
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 egg whites
3 egg yolks Butter and extra granulated sugar (to coat ramekins)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar (garnish)
1) Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2) Brew the espresso – make it strong!
3) Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a large stainless steel mixing bowl (or any heatproof mixing bowl) over simmering water until the temperature of the chocolate is that of a warm bath, but nowhere near boiling.
4) While the chocolate is melting, thoroughly butter the insides of four 5-oz ramekins all the way to the top. Thoroughly coat with granulated sugar by pouring in a couple tablespoons of sugar, then pouring it out slowly while turning the ramekin in your hand. The unbroken butter-sugar coating is essential to the even, columnar rising of your soufflé.
5) In a clean, dry mixing bowl (a copper one if you have it), whip the egg whites until frothy. Add the 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and beat until they hold a soft peak – but not until it forms a hard peak. Tip: A softer consistency folds easier and rises better, so don’t over beat.
6) As soon as you’ve finished the whites, beat the yolks into the melted chocolate. Continue to stir while adding the hot espresso.
7) Immediately fold the beaten whites into the chocolate, gently but thoroughly, a good dozen and a half strokes should do it.
8) Fill the ramekins with the batter, just to the top, and bake 8 to 9 minutes.
9) Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately, with a little side of whipped cream if you prefer.
Note: A copper bowl might make a marginally better meringue, but it’s by no means required. Egg whites beaten in a clean copper bowl are more stable, but they take longer to whip. The copper bowl is mostly an affection, just another of the needlessly daunting myths about soufflés. Soufflés simply take a little practice. And, sure you can peek in at them; just don’t slam the oven door.