Butternut Squash Souffle

In my last post, I learned a valuable lesson regarding why my previous souffle had fallen. The main gist: I didn't allow the souffle to cook long enough, which prevented the egg white proteins from fully denaturing and reforming a cage-like structure, and thus causing the top of the souffle to fall without sufficient structure below to hold its weight. With this in mind, I decided to make a Thanksgiving themed souffle using butternut squash (although pumpkin could easily be substituted) and spices.

Butternut Squash Souffle

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and roasted (for instructions go here)
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c whole milk
2 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1/4 c sugar, plus extra for dusting the ramekins
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Splash of vanilla extract
Butter to grease the ramekins
  1. Puree butternut squash with blender and set aside to let cool.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat cream, milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla to a simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk yolks and sugar until pale yellow. Add a cup of the hot cream mixture very slowly into yolks while continuing to whisk. Then add yolks and cream back to saucepan and keep stirring over low heat. Mixture should thicken in a few minutes, then turn off heat and incorporate into squash puree.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, making sure the rack is near the bottom. Place a baking sheet in the oven. Butter your ramekins and dust the insides and rims with sugar.
  5. Then take egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk until glossy. It should form stiff peaks when you remove your whisk from the bowl, and should be able to hold the weight of an egg. Use a spatula to combine the egg whites scoop by scoop into the squash mixture, making sure they form a fully homogeneous mixture, but do not overmix.
  6. Carefully scoop your mixture into the ramekins up to the rims. Bake on lower rack for about 25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. They should rise, but with firm tops and jiggly centers. Makes about 4 souffles (or one large one if you wish).

To tell you the truth, I still messed up in the end! I undercooked the souffle (but this time less so), as you can see from the photo above. The tops are not golden brown, so if you replicate this dish, leave them in for longer. These souffles did deflate slightly, but only after several minutes, instead of right after removing them from heat as with the black tea souffle, and not to the same extent. So I have yet to master the souffle as some people have, but I suppose I'm on the right track. The flavor itself was delicious, very reminiscent of pumpkin pie, but with such an airy and feather-light texture. I could easily see this as either a side dish (you could cook it in a large casserole dish) or a dessert alternative to traditional pumpkin pie.

Next up: A super simple side!
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