The Cheese Souffle Experiment

A few weeks ago, I tried a little experiment. I tried following a recipe to the letter. Superficially, this may seem like a trivial task. But it’s not. To me, adhering to instructions is like trying to herd cats with snarling, rabid dogs. Not gonna happen.

But I was determined to make a cheese souffle despite its reputation for being a capricious, temperamental, perfection-seeking dish. Actually, the souffle and I have a lot in common. But I digress.

My biggest concern was the noise and activity levels in my home. Unless I was planning on making this sucker at 4 a.m., there is never a quiet moment around here. One of the hairy, smelly lumps of testosterone I live with is always yelling about something, or chasing something, or throwing something or whacking something (usually another hairy, smelly lump of testosterone) with a light saber.

In any case, I don’t know if I just lucked out or what, but I found this recipe on the Internet and it turns out that it’s noisy-hairy-smelly-lumps-of-testosterone- proof. And it was delicious. So, I thought I’d share it with you.

Oh, and just so you know, I followed it to a tee. Except I didn’t have any Gruyère cheese left. I thought I had some Swiss, but that was gone too. So I used sharp Cheddar, instead. Oh, and I didn’t use paprika, but I did put in a couple pinches of thyme. Oh, and I used 2% milk, not whole milk. And I added a bit of cayenne pepper, for a bit of kick.

But other than that, I didn’t change a THING!


  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup (packed) coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (about 4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter 6-cup (1 1/2-quart) soufflé dish. Add Parmesan cheese and tilt dish, coating bottom and sides. Warm milk in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming.

Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture begins to foam and loses raw taste, about 3 minutes (do not allow mixture to brown). Remove saucepan from heat; let stand 1 minute. Pour in warm milk, whisking until smooth. Return to heat and cook, whisking constantly until very thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in paprika, salt, and nutmeg. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, whisking to blend after each addition. Scrape soufflé base into large bowl. Cool to lukewarm.

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into lukewarm or room temperature soufflé base to lighten. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions while gradually sprinkling in Gruyère cheese. Transfer batter to prepared dish.

Place dish in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 375F. Bake until soufflé is puffed and golden brown on top and center moves only slightly when dish is shaken gently, about 25 minutes (do not open oven door during first 20 minutes). Serve immediately.

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  • Wow, that was amazing. And it looks delicious. I know I’d eat it. Can you send me one?

  • Just one question. What in hell do you do with the extra yolk? Oh wait. I just noticed @nonamedufus:disqus down there. I guess he’d take it in a heartbeat.

    (Loved the looks of that thing in April and I’d have made the same adjustments. I just can’t seem to keep gruyere in the house.)

  • When you come to visit, could you make me one?  That looks amazing!  The directions scare me though.  There are so many of them.  I usually stick to four steps maximum.  And I have trouble getting those in order.  Well done, Cooking Queen!  Well done!

  • Um… YES PLEASE! Holy deliciousness! 

  • That sounds like how I follow a recipe (or recipes) since I look up several and take the parts I like of each and discard the rest.  A souffle, however, is a totally different animal, and probably lack the patience to make one – even a supposedly foolproof one.  On the other hand, I’ve never tried a souffle, so it might indeed be worth the agony…er….effort.  It looks yummy!

  • I want to eat that NOW! However, I don’t want to cook it.  How would it travel, do you think?

  • Dufus, the recipe is RIGHT there! You know, you could always try making it yourself. Treat Mrs. D to a homemade meal… or, yeah, I can send you one. 🙂

  • Cheryl, it’s amazing to me that any cheese lasts more than 5 minutes in my house! And what adjustments? I followed the recipe to the letter! 🙂

  • Hon, I will cook anything your little heart desires. Anything at all. Even if there are more than 4 steps involved, even if there are more than 40 steps!

  • Anytime, sweet thing. ANY time! 🙂

  • Yes, even when I “follow” the recipe, I have to change a few things. It’s just how I’m wired, I guess. To tell the truth, I’ve made a lot of other things that were more complex or more time consuming than this one. It’s definitely worth giving a try!

  • C’mon by, Babs! I’d be happy to whip one up for you. Bring Mo too! 🙂
    I think you two would probably travel better than it would!

  • My dad used to get so upset when I’d throw a meal together without a recipe. “How are you ever going to make it again?” The same way I did the first time: a little of this and a little of that. I only use recipes for dry to wet ratios. After that it’s all just magic.

  •  Ha! I got lucky with that, Cheryl. My dad is a chef, he owned a restaurant for over 45 years. He never followed a recipe either and taught me everything he knew about directions 🙂

  • Nicky, you should start a mail order souffle company. “We Work For Cheese” could go international. Besides, it looks like you have quite a few takers right here in the comment section. My only trepidation with the plan is the fact that I don’t see you following anything…let alone a recipe, but damn girl, it looks like a frickin’ Paula Dean masterpiece. Gonna have to try this! 

  • Well, since souffle doesn’t transport well, how ’bout you all come over instead? And what do you mean I didn’t follow the recipe? I followed it EXACTLY!! 🙂

  • You know why you can’t tease egg whites? Cause they can’t take a yolk. Oh, yeah. It’s true.

  • I have never eaten a souffle in my life (Louisiana is rice and gravy country) but it sounds great! Might have to get someone to whip this up for me! (I am not domesticated, but I do eat!)

  • Was it AMAZING?!  Oh my GOSH.  I would do ANYTHING for a taste of that right now!  And this line?  “One of the hairy, smelly lumps of testosterone I live with”  Laugh out loud.!

  • That looks amazing!  You cook like I do with the “Close Enough” method. 

  • mikewjattoomanymornings

    You know what you are? You’re a rebel, that’s what you are. Two-percent milk. It’s a crime, I tell you.

  • mikewjattoomanymornings

    P.S. — Is this you?

  • mikewjattoomanymornings

    P.P.S. — Neither the P.S. nor the attached photo worked, so none of this makes any sense, as usual.


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