My birthday is fast approaching and I am not happy about it. After getting pummeled by the stomach flu last week, which left me flat on my back for a full day and a half, I am feeling old. Lucky for me, thanks to a fluke of gestational timing, I get an annual consolation prize: Valentine’s Day. Every year on my birthday, hearts swoon or break, chocolates abound, and love is served up neat and pretty by eager retailers and restaurateurs.
But this year, there is another reason to celebrate on February 14th…Chinese New Year. Now that’s an excuse for a feast! The Year of the Tiger promises to be a ferocious one—wild and intense and unpredictable. The fact that it falls right on Valentine’s Day seems too strong a message to ignore. There is no way we are going to get through this beast of a year ahead without plenty of love, gratitude and, of course…chocolate.
One of my primary food groups, chocolate is the base for this mainstay of dinner party desserts. I know I just posted a soufflé recipe a few weeks ago (see Pumpkin Coconut Soufflés), but when you try this one, you will understand my urgency. It’s absolutely delightful, a cinch to prepare, and fail-proof, as I can attest to after accidentally omitting the sugar during a cooking class last weekend (still delicious). The kiss of ginger gives it that “secret ingredient” intrigue and a subtle Asian twist. As with most soufflés, I would serve these with a scoop of premium vanilla ice cream or perhaps a bowl of whipped cream with a few pieces of chopped candied ginger folded in.
It’s the dessert I want to be dipping into on my birthday, as I try to pretend that I’m not another year older but another soufflé closer to “living happily ever after.”
Unsalted butter or margarine and sugar to coat soufflé molds
6 ounces best-quality bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
A 2-inch unpeeled piece of ginger root, grated into a small bowl
Pinch of cream of tartar or 1/8 teaspoon lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Prepare 1/2-cup soufflé molds by brushing them with melted butter or margarine and coating them with sugar.
2. Slowly melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave, then cool to room temperature.
3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla. Squeeze the grated ginger into the bowl and stir in the juice, discarding the pulp. Stir in the melted chocolate.
4. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add the sugar as you whip the whites to soft peaks.
5. Fold a third of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then add the chocolate mixture to the rest of the whites. Transfer the mixture to a small pitcher (or liquid measuring cup) to make it easy to pour into the prepared soufflé dishes. Fill the dishes to the top and level off with a knife.
6. Bake for about 12 minutes on the lower rack of the oven until puffed up. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.
Photo credit: MyRecipes.com