“pint-size” spinach souffles
Soufflés – you thought they were beyond you? Tricky, prone to collapsing into an eggy puddle? Or perhaps you thought that only the French have that certain “something”, perhaps in their very genes – an innate knowledge of how to coax great heights out of these poofy delicacies, using the only love language eggs understand. It’s a common misconception, but it’s just Not So! There’s nothing about this dish that puts it out of your league…I can almost promise you that. Making a soufflé in a larger dish, that IS a bit trickier, more prone to collapsing, or rising very lopsided in the first place…but baking each portion in its own little ramekin or cocotte is nearly fool-proof. And really…how cute?
Soufflés aren’t just for breakfast or brunch either. When paired with a crunchy baguette and salad, soufflés make for a light and satisfying dinner. (Pour a bottle of French wine, and they’ll feel right at home.)
Mini Spinach Soufflés
- 3½ ounces (90 grams) baby spinach leaves
- 2 Tablespoons (30 g) butter (+ extra for buttering ramekins)
- ½ cup (50 g) all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs total – the whites of 3, the yolks of 2
- 1½ cups milk (350 ml)
- ½ cup freshly-grated Parmesan
- salt & pepper to taste
- dash or 2 nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Butter the ramekins or mini-cocottes.
If you aren’t using spinach that was pre-washed (3 times) when you bought it, it’s best to wash again and dry thoroughly. Place the dried spinach in a blender and process until fairly finely chopped.
Separate eggs. Place 2 of the yolks in a small bowl, and gently whisk.
The béchamel (white sauce): In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir to blend. Gradually add the milk, stirring or lightly whisking all the while, until mixture has come to a boil and thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add dash or 2 of grated nutmeg. Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Add a spoonful at a time to the beaten yolks, stirring constantly. Once you’ve added a few spoonfuls to gradually warm the egg yolks, add them to the saucepan stirring as you do so. Stir in all of the spinach and half of the grated cheese. Set aside for the mixture to cool.
With the 3 egg whites in a large bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer) add a pinch of salt and whisk until stiff peaks form.
Using a very gentle hand, fold one-third of the spinach béchamel into the stiffened egg whites. (When folding, a rubber spatula works well. Bring a spatula-ful from the bottom up and over, folding down into the center of the mixture – continue in this way until it’s incorporated. Stirring would break down the bubbles that the soufflé needs to rise.) Now fold in the last two-thirds so that the spinach is fairly evenly distributed, but being careful not to deflate.
With a spoon, fill each of the buttered dishes about ¾-full. Sprinkle with the last of the grated cheese. Using your baby finger, run around the top inner edge of each ramekin to clean it of anything that might have collected there. This will encourage the soufflé to rise above the top rim.
Place them carefully on a baking sheet and insert in the pre-heated oven. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. You’re looking for the tops to turn a golden brown. If they’ve started to brown too much during the first 20 minutes, cover with a large piece of aluminum foil.
Serve Immediately. The souffles will have puffed up beautifully – quick take a picture! – because as soon as they hit the cooler air, they will start to deflate. Don’t be discouraged – inside you will still find a delicate and fluffy, delicious cloud of an egg dish.
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