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.
* To make a prune soufflé, substitute an equal amount of dried prunes.
Remove eggs from refrigerator and lay aside so they will be at room temperature when you beat them later on.
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.
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.
One hour and 15 minutes before dessert:
Grease upper part of a 2-Quart double boiler with butter.
Separate five eggs.
Whip the egg whites until they stand in stiff points when the beater is lifted.
Gently fold the apricot mixture into the whites using a spoon or rubber spatula, not the mixer.
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 bubblinga true simmer. Cook 1 hour. Do not uncover during cooking period.
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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