Cheddar Corn Soufflé
From Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito's Baked Elements: "Yes, this incredibly rich, creamy, Cheddar Corn Soufflé can be served as a dessert—a studious, old-school, cheese course. It can also be served as an appetizer. Or as a side. Or, less typically, as a main course. We actually encourage you, if you are feeling full of morning pep, to try it our on unsuspecting breakfast or brunch guests. Fact is, we really don't care when you serve this multipurpose concoction, we just encourage you to make it often. Our riff on this venerable dish is punched up with the decidedly unsubtle extra-sharp cheddar (we have classic macaroni and cheese on the brain) and a handful of corn—the two flavors complement each other well, and the corn adds a bright burst of texture. Finally, we think our perfectly golden Cheddar Corn Soufflé is one of those dishes that fancifies the mood with little effort, and everyone knows we could use a bit more fancy in our lives."
- 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 5 large eggs, separated, plus 1 large egg white, at room temperature
- ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup packed grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
- ½ cup fresh corn kernels or frozen corn, thawed*
- Heat the oven to 400°F and position the rack in the center. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 1½-quart soufflé dish. Dust the soufflé dish with the Parmesan cheese (so that it adheres to the butter) and knock out the excess.
- Whisk together the salt, nutmeg, black pepper, and cayenne in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Warm the milk (do not boil it) in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat once tiny bubbles appear around the pan's perimeter.
- Melt the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until completely combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, wait 30 seconds, then slowly stream the milk into the butter mixture while whisking constantly. Continue whisking until smooth, and return to the heat. Cook until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 10 minutes. When bubbles appear, remove from the heat and whisk in the spice mixture. Continue stirring vigorously for about 1 minute to release some of the heat. Add the 5 egg yolks, one at a time, whisking after each addition. After all the yolks are completely incorporated, transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
- Whisk the 6 egg whites vigorously for 1 minute in another large bowl (or in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment). Sprinkle the cream of tartar over the whites and continue beating until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
- Fold one-third of the egg white mixture into the soufflé base. Add the cheddar cheese and corn, along with half of the remaining egg whites, and gently fold until almost incorporated. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until completely but just incorporated.
- Transfer the entire mixture to the prepared soufflé dish. Run your thumb around the inside edge of the dish to wipe away any stray mixture (this will provide for an even rise), place the soufflé in the oven, and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the soufflé is puffy, slightly golden, and the center is just about set.
- Transfer the soufflé dish to a serving platter and serve immediately.
- *If you prefer a more pronounced corn taste, you can increase the corn in the recipe from anywhere up to ¾ cup total without affecting the soufflé.
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