I probably would have been much to intimidated to attempt a souffle, except for a recipe that I found in a baby food cookbook, of all places. Souffles were not exactly what came to mind when I thought of easy, toddler-friendly meals, but that's what the book said. I tried it, and sure enough, it's become a favorite in our house.

The recipe was a pretty standard cheese souffle--make a white sauce, add cheese, add egg yolks, thicken, fold together with beaten egg whites. However, the mom-friendly version calls for baking it in an ungreased dish. It makes things a bit messy when you're serving it up, but it rises just fine, and you don't have to deal with the hassle of coating the dish, which I've never succeeded in doing properly, anyway. One little missed spot, and the souffle doesn't rise.

Anyway, tonight I tried out a different recipe. It calls for using hot milk in the white sauce. I'd always heard that was a big no-no, but it worked like a dream. Silky smooth without the faintest trace of a lump. But it was very, very thick. So thick I don't think you could honestly call it a sauce. So instead of thickening it with the egg yolks, this recipe said to allow the "sauce" to cool before adding the yolks. So since they didn't get cooked at this stage, the yolks actually thinned the mixture, rather than thickening it, and the resulting texture was approximately the same as with a more standard recipe.

Thus the mixture is much sturdier as it cooks, and you can actually bake it in a normally greased dish.

It was a gorgeous souffle, slow to deflate, easily slice-able, and silky-textured.

Best of all, it was all very straightforward and simple to make, with little room for disaster.

And that's always a good thing.


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