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Chocolate Espresso Souffle

INGREDIENTS:3 ½ Tbsp. strong freshly brewed espresso
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate
as needed, granulated sugar for demitasse cups
4 egg whites
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar, plus more for garnish
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup heavy cream for whipping (optional) DIRECTIONS:Preheat oven to 400°F. Brew the espresso (make it strong). Melt chocolate in top of a double boiler or in a large stainless-steel mixing bowl (or heatproof mixing bowl) over simmering water until the temperature is that of a warm bath, but nowhere near boiling.

While chocolate is melting, thoroughly butter the insides of demitasse cups all the way up to the top. Thoroughly coat with granulated sugar by pouring in a couple of Tbsp. of sugar, then pouring it slowly while turning cup in your hand. The unbroken butter-sugar coating is essential to the even, columnar rising of your souffle, so don’t touch the inside surface of cups.

In clean, dry mixing bowl, whip whites until frothy. Add powdered sugar and beat until mixture holds a soft peak, but not until hard. A softer consistency folds in easier and rises better, so don’t overbeat.

Whisk egg yolks into melted chocolate. While continuing to stir, add hot espresso. Immediately fold the whites into the chocolate, gently but thoroughly. (A dozen and half strokes should do it.)

Fill cups with batter just to the top, and bake 8 to 9minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately with a side of whipped cream, if desired. SERVINGS:8 servings (demitasse cups, 2.5 fl. oz. each) From:Ken Frank, La Toque, Rutherford, California PHOTO CREDIT:Photo Credit: LA TOQUE