February 28 – Chocolate Souffle Day
Apart from it also being National Pancake Day for Shrove Tuesday (can you get into IHOP’s super long lines for their free pancakes today?), it’s also National Chocolate Souffle Day! One thing you learn about souffles, even when you’re not a cook, or a pastry chef, or you just watch a lot of the Food Network, is that they’re difficult to get perfect. They’re a simple enough recipe–an egg-yolk-based cream sauce and whipped egg whites baked in the oven, mixed with a variety of flavorings and spices–but to get them just right takes quite a bit of expertise. The temperature of the oven has to be perfect and consistent or the rising of the souffle dough will be hindered, it has to be timed just right or it’ll burn (or be undercooked), and flavoring of a souffle, whether savory or sweet, is essential. It’s for these reasons that a lot of people, including myself, never try to bake a souffle in the first place. (I’ll stick with chocolate cakes, Mr. Duncan Hines!)
But for those that like a little tension in their desserts, chocolate souffles are the way to go. The taste of each souffle, since the ingredients can be wildly different, vary by each cook, from super rich and bitter to a light, sweet souffle. And because the nature of the dish means they have to be served within 5-10 minutes of baking (or else the souffle will fall regardless of preparation), you are always served a piping hot dessert fresh out of the oven–how’s that for a freshness guarantee? 🙂
If you’re looking for one of the best chocolate souffles in town, head to la Silhouette, where the dessert is a part of a decadent French-inspired full dinner menu. You do almost have to have the whole dinner in order to get the souffle, as it has to be ordered beforehand so the chef has the proper amount of time to prepare it. (Like I said before, souffles are serious business!) But when you get it, the fluffy, almost mousse-like consistency of the souffle completely wins you over. The molten chocolate in the middle of the souffle is a wonderful surprise–maybe I should put “spoiler alerts” on this entry! You should note that this dessert is a souffle for two, so it’s meant to be shared–or scarfed down to your heart’s content!
362 W 53rd St (between 8th Ave & 9th Ave)
“The chocolate soufflé for two has to be ordered beforehand and contains veins of deeply pleasing molten chocolate in its fluffy depths. The grizzled Francophile took one wistful bite, then another. “I’m a happy man,” he said.”–New York Magazine
“Instead, we are reduced to hunger again, being forced to submit to the midnight dark chocolate soufflé for two that arrives unbidden. The waiter craters it to accept a pour of hazelnut chocolate sauce as we taste and taste again, sharing the just-made espresso ice cream alongside.”–Crains New York
“NOTE: La Silhouette’s Chocolate Soufflé For Two is an absolute must, so save room and prepare to have the hazelnut chocolate sauce and espresso ice cream rock your world!”–iDine.com
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Lastly we had the chocolate souffle for dessert. The waiter told us that the pastry chef is so popular that people come in just for dessert, and after having the souffle I am not surprised. It was more rich and decadent than I could have imagined, and the hazelnut fudge sauce finished it off perfectly. I didn’t bother with the espresso ice cream, only because I felt that would be gilding the lily, but I tasted it and it too was lovely.”–Marilyn S.
“I had seen a photo of this soufflé on the La Silhouette website and was convinced it was just a normal-sized souffléthat they’d slapped for two onto to justify the $18 price tag. But it turns out the ramekin was as big as a cantaloupe and brimming with inches and inches of fluffy not-quite-cake/not-q uite-pudding.”–Katie E.