Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini.               

Apricot (or Prune) Never-Fail Soufflé

One of the closely-guarded secrets of cooking is that a beautiful soufflé is actually easier to master than a lowly pineapple upside-down cake. And you'll get a lot more "Ooh"s and "Ah"s for your effort.

I make around ten different soufflés. This remains my favorite. It is particularly forgiving, making it perfect as a first soufflé. It is also promotes stress-free entertaining, as it, unlike a typical soufflé, is quite forgiving of a slipped schedule. No need to try to rush guests through the main course for fear desert will be ruined.

Best of all, not only does it explode with flavor, but, because all the preparation has been completed before the first guest sits down, you get to enjoy your meal, too.

I've included all the tricks of the trade, so that you will achieve a grand result the very first time.



   6 oz. dried apricots*   1/4 teaspoon salt
   2/3 cup water   1 teaspoon lemon juice
   1/2 cup sugar   5 egg whites

* To make a prune soufflé, substitute an equal amount of dried prunes.

Whipped Cream

   1 cup chilled whipping cream
   sugar to taste
   vanilla to taste


Remove eggs from refrigerator and lay aside so they will be at room temperature when you beat them later on.

  • Warm eggs ensure maximum rise.

Put dried apricots in a small pot, cover with the water, cover, and gently simmer over very low heat for around 25 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed. Purée the apricots in a blender or food processor. If things bog down, add just enough water to loosen it up.

  • You can now find dried apricots in a tough, sealed plastic bag at many supermarkets. These start out slightly moist, so they take a lot less effort to plump up.

Combine purée with sugar. Stir well. Add salt and lemon juice. Result should have the consistency of jam or preserves. If it is too thick and sticky to work with, thin with a little added water. Cover and leave unrefrigerated.

Whip well-chilled whipping cream until it thickens. Sweeten to taste with sugar. Add a few drops of vanilla. Return to refrigerator.

  • Whipping room-temperature cream immediately turns it to butter.
  • Overbeating can also turn cream to butter, so, when you add the sugar and vanilla to the already-thickened cream, use only the lowest setting on the mixer or blend them in using a spoon or rubber spatula.

One hour and 15 minutes before dessert:

Grease upper part of a 2-Quart double boiler with butter.

Separate five eggs.

  • Separate each egg into a small bowl. As each egg is successfully separated, transfer that egg white into a larger mixing bowl. (You can use the yolks for Hollandaise Sauce or wash them down the drain. Drain-washing is lower in cholesterol.)
  • If a yolk breaks and even the smallest speck or streak of egg yolk contaminates the egg white, throw that egg out. A tiny amount of yolk can prevent the whites from rising properly.

Whip the egg whites until they stand in stiff points when the beater is lifted.

  • Check the bottom of the bowl for any sign of unwhipped egg white. Such unwhipped egg white is why some souffles end up with a layer of custard at the bottom. Whip the whites until it's gone.

Gently fold the apricot mixture into the whites using a spoon or rubber spatula, not the mixer.

  • The trick is to retain as much of the air you just beat into the egg whites as you can.
  • The mixture should be well-blended, but some remaining flecks of white are OK and expected. These will blend in during the cooking process.

Pour the mixture into your prepared double boiler top. Set over, not in, hot water. Cover soufflé. Keep the water in the bottom of the double-boiler just barely bubbling—a true simmer. Cook 1 hour. Do not uncover during cooking period.

  • The actual cooking time is not critical: as short as 55 minutes, as long as 100 minutes, with the ideal time at 60 minutes.


If you have an attractive double-boiler, serve the soufflé directly from the double-boiler. Otherwise, turn out the soufflé into a warmed serving dish. Serve with the whipped cream.

As long as the egg whites were beaten enough (no loose "goo" at the bottom of the bowl) and the double-boiler is kept on low enough heat not to run out of water, the soufflé will not fail.

You may even prepare these soufflés in advance, to be served cold as an "Apricot Whip" or "Prune Whip."

Serves 4 to 6

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