I first made a version of this dish for a New Year’s Eve dinner party from a website I found while looking for a “make ahead” first course that would allow me to focus my attention on the rest of the meal and my guests. It was a hit, and I have been further developing the recipe for the past 12 years. The version today is much different in terms of flavor and was elevated by the discovery of green garlic when I moved to Northern California. Espelette pepper was a final addition you see here now.
For the Soufflés
5 TBSP butter
2 oz chopped green garlic, remove the outer tough leaf layer to expose the tender middle. I used 5 stems of green garlic to get 2 oz by weight. Use the white and green “core” of the garlic stalk. You may also used cured garlic but will loose the flavor brightness the green garlic emparts.
¼ tsp Espelette Pepper (or black pepper)
1/2 TBSP vinegar
1 cup milk
3 TBSP all-purpose flour
leaves from a couple of sprigs of thyme
4 oz. grated Cheddar cheese (about 1 cup) you may substitute nearly any cheese here, I like goat cheddar.
3 oz grated Parmesan (about 2/3 cup)
4 large eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Espelette Pepper, Extra grated parmesan
You will need six 3/4-cup individual soufflé dishes
Melt 1 TBSP of the butter and add the garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, pepper to taste, 3/4 cup water and the vinegar. Simmer covered for 10 minutes, then uncover and boil until the water has evaporated. Process in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return the garlic mixture back to the saucepan, add the milk, bring to the boil. Measure 1 cup garlic-milk mixture.
Heat the remaining butter and stir in the flour and thyme. Cook for a minute, then make a white sauce by gradually stirring in the garlic milk till thick. Transfer to a big bowl, add the grated cheese, three-quarters of the Parmesan, then the egg yolks. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 350°F. (Butter the individual soufflé dishes and dust the sides with the remaining Parmesan; if you have any left over, stir into the sauce. Set in a roasting pan and put a kettle on to boil.
Beat egg whites till firm but not dry. Fold half into the soufflé base, then add the rest. Spoon into the dishes (fill them almost to the top), pour boiling water into the pan to one-third of the depth of the dishes and bake for 20-25 minutes, till puffed and cooked through. Remove from oven and leave to cool—they will sink.
When cool, run a knife round the edge to loosen each soufflé, gently upend on to your hand, then put the right way up on one big dish or 6 gratin dishes. (You can make the soufflés a day ahead, or even freeze them. Make sure they are at room temperature before the second baking.)
To serve, set your oven to 400°F. Pour cream over the soufflés and dust with parmesan cheese and Espelette pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes, till golden and the sauce bubbling. They will gently re-puff.