Prune and Armagnac soufflé
- Preparation and cooking time
- Total time
- A little effort
- Serves 4
- (soft or ready-to-eat) 250g D’Agen prunes, pitted
- about 500ml Ceylon tea, cold
- 6 eggs, whites only (use 4 from the custard)
- to dust icing sugar
- 4 eggs, yolks only (use whites for soufflé)
- 30g golden caster sugar, plus extra to dust
- 300ml single cream
- 1 vanilla pod, split
- 75ml Armagnac, plus extra for the soufflé
- STEP 1
Heat the oven to 180c/fan 160c/gas 4. Put the prunes in a baking dish and add enough tea to just cover them. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes until soft and the liquid is syrupy. Cool, then blend the lot to a purée.
- STEP 2
To make the custard, whisk the egg yolks and sugar with electric beaters until the mixture is pale and thick enough to hold a trail when you lift out the whisk. Bring the cream and vanilla pod just to boiling point in a pan, strain. Add the hot cream to the sugar and egg mixture little by little, until it is all mixed in. Put the bowl over a pan of very hot but not boiling water, and cook, stirring until the mixture is beginning to thicken a little, and feels hot to the touch. Be careful not to overcook or the eggs will scramble. Now add the armagnac, but don’t keep cooking or you’ll cook off the alcohol. Cool over a bowl of ice.
- STEP 3
Lightly butter 4 × 300ml individual soufflé dishes, right up to the top rim. It’s really important to cover every inch of the inside to ensure your soufflés rise evenly. Now dust the buttered surfaces with caster sugar, tip out ay excess, and chill the prepared ramekins.
- STEP 4
Heat the oven to 200c/fan 180c/gas 6. In a clean mixing bowl, slacken the purée with a little armagnac until easily spoonable. In a second, very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks are just forming, then stop. It’s crucial not to overbeat or your soufflé will collapse.
- STEP 5
Take about a quarter of the beaten egg white and gently stir into the prune purée. Now add the rest, folding the two together gently, using a circular figure of eight action – this distributes the whites evenly and ensures you don’t knock the air out of the soufflé.
- STEP 6
Fill the soufflé dishes to the top, leaving no gaps. Flatten the top off with a palate knife. Put on a baking tray and cook for 15-20 minutes. It is cooked when the soufflé has risen above the rim by a third of the height of the dish. Serve at once, dusted with icing sugar and with the chilled custard to pour over.