Today, February 28th is Celebrate National Chocolate Soufflé Day! So it is only fitting we pay tribute to this heavenly, delectable, timeless dessert. While this indulgence remains beloved, it tends to grace the menus of upscale restaurants more frequently nowadays.

Crafting a soufflé is a culinary challenge requiring precision. Numerous elements must align for that coveted perfect rise. Firstly, pristine egg whites devoid of any traces of fat are imperative. Timing is critical, as is the precise application of heat to coax the soufflé skyward. Should you embark on the journey of creating a chocolate soufflé, another hurdle arises: deftly incorporating the chocolate into the mix.

chocolate souffle

The history of the soufflé

The history of the soufflé is a rich and flavorful tale that stretches back centuries, originating in France during the late 18th century. The word “soufflé” itself comes from the French verb “souffler,” which means “to blow” or “to puff,” reflecting the dish’s characteristic rise and airy texture.

The earliest recorded mention of soufflés dates back to the late 1700s, during the height of French culinary innovation. While the exact inventor of the soufflé remains unknown, it is widely believed that it emerged as a result of experimentation and creativity in French kitchens.

One of the earliest written recipes for a soufflé appeared in Vincent La Chapelle’s cookbook “Cuisinier Moderne” in 1742. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that soufflés gained widespread popularity and became a staple of French cuisine.

During this time, French chefs refined and perfected the art of making soufflés, experimenting with various ingredients, techniques, and flavor combinations. The soufflé became a symbol of culinary sophistication and elegance, gracing the tables of aristocrats and royalty across Europe.

In the 20th century, the soufflé experienced a resurgence in popularity, particularly with the rise of French haute cuisine and the influence of renowned chefs like Auguste Escoffier. Soufflés were featured prominently in fine dining establishments, where they were served as both savory appetizers and decadent desserts.

Over the years, the soufflé has evolved and adapted to suit changing tastes and culinary trends. Chefs have experimented with a wide range of ingredients, including cheese, chocolate, fruit, and vegetables, creating an endless variety of soufflé flavors and textures.

Today, the soufflé remains a beloved classic in French cuisine and continues to inspire chefs and home cooks around the world. While it requires a delicate touch and precise technique to master, the reward is a dish that delights the senses and evokes the timeless elegance of French gastronomy.

What is a soufflé?

Generally speaking, a soufflé is made by gently folding either a sweet or savory base into stiffly beaten egg whites. This incorporation of egg whites gives the soufflé its characteristic airy texture.

Once mixed, the soufflé batter is poured into a dish or individual ramekins and baked in the oven until it puffs up and becomes golden brown on top. The rise of a soufflé is achieved through the expansion of air trapped in the egg whites during baking.

A properly whisked soufflé boasts an abundance of air bubbles evenly distributed within the mixture. During baking, these bubbles expand with steam, prompting the batter to rise—ideally surpassing the container’s rim.

Once the soufflé is taken out of the oven, it begins to fall: as the bubbles cool, steam transforms into water, causing the bubbles to collapse and resulting in the soufflé deflating.

Soufflés are known for their delicate nature and should be served immediately after baking, as they have a tendency to deflate rather quickly once removed from the oven. They are often enjoyed as appetizers, main courses, or desserts, depending on the flavor profile.

Tips on making a soufflé

Here are several tips to ensure success in making a soufflé:

  1. Get some air. The key to getting air into the egg whites is a fast, steady whisk to whip air into the mixture. It’s okay to do it by hand but it can be tiring. A hand mixer or standing mixer is the optimal tool for beating the egg whites. This is a good technique to master for other dishes as well, like sponge cakes and meringues.
  2. Metal bowls are best. A large bowl made of metal is best for beating the egg whites. Other materials can hold onto residue from previous uses. Metal offers the right texture to allow the egg to achieve those peaks.
  3. Use the right soufflé dish. When soufflés grew in popularity in nineteenth century France, special dishes were designed to bake them. They are usually circular, ceramic bowls with straight sides to help guide soufflés upwards. A ramekin is a small soufflé baking dish for an individual serving.
  4. Separating eggs. As you will see in step 6 – room temperature eggs are best for whipping HOWEVER to successfully separate the yolks from the whites it is best to do it when the eggs are cold and right out of the refrigerator. Also, ensure that there are NO specks of egg yolk in the whites. Egg yolks are primarily fat (with a bit of protein) and egg whites are all protein. Any bit of fat in the bowl will prevent the egg whites from whipping properly. Also, another tip is to separate the egg whites – one at a a time – in a different bowl and then transfer it to the mixing bowl. This way you avoid an errant egg yolk from contaminating your entire bowl.
  5. Clean mixing bowl. As stated above, to make sure the egg whites whip up properly, there can be no fat of any kind in the mixing bowl. Best practice is to throughly wash and rinse your mixing bowl before use. As an added insurance policy add a little white vinegar into the bowl and swirl it around before dumping it out and drying it throughly with a clean towel.
  6. Room temperature eggs and fresh eggs will get the best results. Pull eggs out of the refrigerator an hour before making the soufflé. Cold eggs don’t get the same peaks as warmer eggs.
  7. Use cream of tartar. Cream of tartar, an acidic salt that is a byproduct of wine and grape production, is often added to egg whites when beaten. The acid helps the eggs reach maximum height and trap air. Lemon juice is another option.
  8. Whipping the egg whites. Read the recipe to see what kind of egg whites are needed – soft peaks or stiff peaks. To achieve stiff peaks, ensure that the egg whites are just beginning to lose their shine. Avoid overbeating, as it can lead to a grainy and dry foam, or underbeating, which won’t provide enough lift. If you accidentally overbeat your whites, you may be able to salvage them by incorporating another egg white, a step that often restores their texture.
  9. Folding the batter. Once you add the flavoring base to the beaten egg whites, gently fold the two together with a spatula. Stop folding when the white streaks have nearly vanished, or just as they are about to disappear. It’s better to have a few remaining white streaks than to overfold, which can cause the batter to deflate.
  10. Use parmesan and breadcrumbs or granulated sugar. The buttered ramekin always needs a textured coating over it to help the batter grab on to the sides of the dish and climb. Rub parmesan or bread crumbs over the buttered ramekin for a savory soufflé or granulated sugar for a sugary one.
  11. Creating a flat top soufflé. Once you’ve filled the dish, run the back of a knife across the top of the ramekin. This will give it a flat top as it bakes and help to keep its shape.
  12. Preheat the oven and cook the soufflé on a baking sheet at the bottom of the oven. Make sure you preheat the oven. That initial blast of heat will give the soufflé its initial lift. You will also want to heat the soufflé from the bottom up so the hot pan will transfer to the dish.
  13. As tempting as it might be, avoid opening the oven door. The cool air will inhibit the soufflé from rising. If you want to watch, just turn on the oven light.
chocolate souffle

Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé

Yield: 6 servings


As neededUnsalted butter, buttering ramekins
As neededGranulated sugar, for dusting ramekins
5 1/2 oz (150g)Valrhona Guanaja 70% chocolate (or between 60%-80% chocolate)
4 eachEggs, large, separated
100g (1/2 cup or 3 1/2 oz)Granulated sugar
1 tea (heaping)Valrhona unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tea (heaping)Cornstarch
200 ml (1 cup minus 3 Tbsp)Whipping cream


Using a pastry brush, carefully butter the molds. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and turn upside down to remove the excess. Place in a refrigerator.

Sift the cornstarch and cocoa powder together. Set aside.

Chop the chocolate and melt it slowly in a bain-marie. Set aside.

In a meticulously clean mixing bowl add the egg whites and slowly start whisking. Gradually add the granulated sugar until soft peaks form.

Pour the cream into a saucepan and add the cornstarch cocoa mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly so the mixture doesn’t stick. When it simmers and starts to thicken, remove from the heat and slowly pour one-third of the mixture into the melted chocolate. Using a flexible spatula, mix it energetically, drawing small circles to create an elastic, shiny “kernel.” Add the second third and repeat. Finally, add the remaining liquid and mix.

Add the egg yolks, whisking energetically until the texture is smooth and shiny.

Carefully fold in one-third of the whisked egg whites with a spatula. When the mixture has been “lightened,” carefully fold in the remaining egg whites.

Fill the molds or ramekins to the top and scrape off the excess so that the mixture is level with the top of the container. Clean the rim. Bake immediately or chill until ready to bake.

Bake in a preheated 425 degrees Fahrenheit / 210-220 degrees Celsius oven for 10-12 minutes undisturbed. The soufflés should be well-risen with a nicely done crust. Serve Immediately.

These soufflés can be served on their own or with a Crème Anglaise, whipped cream, or ice cream on the side.

University of Wyoming Extension