A souffle is an entrée or dessert that relies on egg whites to expand and puff up to create the iconic, fluffy final product we think of. In fact, souffle is a derivative of the French verb souffler, which means “to blow,” “to puff,” or “to inflate.” If the egg whites are not correctly whipped to create the necessary air bubbles, the delicious base that uses the egg yolks cannot be enjoyed.
Though the famously tricky to make dish requires eggs, dairy plays an important role in its success. Souffles are often prepared using butter, milk, and flour as a base mixed with egg whites. This base is important, as a souffle should be slightly runny when opened.
While we may think first of sweet souffles for dessert, especially with popular trends like souffle pancakes, savory souffles are an option at dinnertime. Cheese—mainly parmesan or gruyere—and herbs are often added to the base of savory souffles. For a sweet souffle, cream is often included, as well as perhaps a scoop of ice cream to pair with the treat.
Baked in a ramekin or special souffle dish, butter or even a butter, breadcrumb, and parmesan combination may be used along the sides of the dish so the souffle can easily rise. Cheese manages to appear throughout the process of making a savory souffle.
Cheese plays such a big part in savory souffles that cheese souffles are the most popular variation. Cheese souffles can be served with a side salad or a bowl of soup as a light meal. If you prepare your own souffle, just make sure to quickly serve your souffles for the best experience. The cheesy food will deflate if it is prepared ahead of time.
Next time you see souffles on the menu for a special dinner, remember how dairy helps souffles rise to the occasion.