Gaining Elevation: Soufflé School


Welcome to Gaining Elevation, a column dedicated to kicking your kitchen game up a notch. We’ll explore classic and often-used recipes, and get professional insight into how to get great results every time. From desserts and cocktails to mains and sides, nothing’s out of bounds!

The countdown to Valentine’s Day is on. But you already know that.

Like many foodies and enthusiastic home chefs, you might be mulling over what to lovingly craft in the kitchen to impress your loved one. On a holiday that practically oozes chocolate, dessert merits particularly careful consideration. Allow us to suggest a classically elegant, delightfully rich chocolate soufflé.

Wait! It sounds complicated or difficult, we know. But Sara Trent, pastry chef at Snake River Grill, is here to help; her professional hints and tips will set you up for soufflé success!

While the recipe that Trent relies on at Snake River Grill is atypical (and ideal for large batches), she recommends following a classic soufflé recipe like the one below. The scale and ingredient proportions are superior for home chefs, she says.

“There are a few essential things,” she explains. “Make sure that your molds are buttered correctly, or the soufflé will have issues. Use straight, upward brushstrokes on the sides.” Though it sounds like a small detail, Trent insists that this makes a big difference in how the dessert rises in the oven. The bottom of the mold isn’t as critical to brush in any specific direction. Just get those sides done right.

Another key? Ensure that your eggs are separated very cleanly, Trent says. Sloppily separated eggs simply don’t behave as they should, and can lead to less than impressive soufflé results. It’s important to make sure the egg whites have the perfect consistency before they’re added to the mix. Trent describes this stage as “medium peaks.” How does she determine this? “Lift up the beater, and there should be a droopy peak off the end of it. That’s the right texture.”

When it comes to chocolate, Trent has a couple of tips. “Get high quality chocolate for this,” she chuckles. “This is really not the time for Tollhouse chips.” No need to special order the extremely expensive stuff, she says, but it’s worth reaching for a more top-shelf brand like Ghirardelli.

To avoid soufflés that expand too much, or slouch over the side of the ramekin, Trent suggests filling them up to about a quarter inch from the top. “Give them three or four really good taps on the counter. That will eliminate any air bubbles that are in the batter,” she advises.

Finally, Trent suggests serving the soufflé with a garnish that will complement and cool the heat and richness of the chocolate. At Snake River Grill, you can expect your chocolate soufflé to arrive with a side of mint creme Anglaise, but whipped cream, berry compote or even ice cream would all create a similar balance. The combination will be the perfect end to the most romantic evening of the year.

Maybe you’d rather leave the soufflé to the expert? Let Trent deliver the perfect soufflé to you and your sweetie pie. There’s still availability at Snake River Grill for Valentine’s Day… but hurry! It might not last!


Chocolate Soufflé


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar to dust the mold
  • 4 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, grated or coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites at room temperature (or lukewarm)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • confectioners' sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Butter and sugar a 6-cup soufflé mold or charlotte.
  • Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over low heat.
  • When the chocolate has melted, remove from heat.
  • Whisk in the milk and 1/3 cup of sugar until the mixture is smooth; then whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time.
  • Make sure no traces of yolk remain visible.
  • Whip the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar with a whisk or an electric mixer at medium speed. When the whites are opaque and begining to stiffen, slowly add the 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  • If you are using a mixer, increase the speed to high.
  • Beat until stiff.
  • Stir 1/4 of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold the chocolate into the remaining whites.
  • Pour the batter into the mold and place it on the middle rack of the oven.
  • Immediately reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife blade comes out clean.
  • If you like your soufflé creamy at the center, remove it from the oven sooner.
  • Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve immediately.
  • Optional accompaniments are chocolate sauce and whipped cream.



About Author

In full rebellion against the unpredictable climate of the Rocky Mountains, you can find Melissa on her deck grilling any month of the year. Typically in flip flops. Snow, rain, wind… no weather is too fierce. She’s a lover of peaches in any form, has a borderline addiction to arugula, and (strangely) has been known to drizzle soy sauce on pizza. But even more than she loves her stand mixer and cast iron collection, she adores cooking for her husband and young daughter. When this Jackson Hole native isn’t scurrying around her messy kitchen, she’s probably outside floating the river, hiking, camping, fishing, or, well… grilling.

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