Prune and Armagnac Soufflé
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It’s dangerous to mess around with Christmas lunch too much, but I loved the sound of this prune and armagnac soufflé when Muddy chef-in-residence (virtually speaking of course) Paul Collins suggested it. It’s flashy enough to suit the occasion, boozy enough to give that warm festive glow and takes a lot less time to cook than a flippin Christmas pudding!
If you don’t use it this Christmas, keep it for a winter dinner party in February when the fun fatwa of the New Year has been lifted.
Prune and Armagnac Soufflé by Paul Collins
A soufflé serves as a welcome finish to any meal, but it seems so right at this time of year when the flavours of the Armagnac and the prunes go hand in hand with each other.
As with my recipes the devil is in the detail. Get as much prep done ahead of time as you can. This can include everything from making the base mixture (which can be frozen if you like), to buttering the moulds the day before and just dusting them with the sugar at the last minute, to making sure the machine to whisk the egg whites is all ready and you have a tray to hand for the moulds. With organisation, the pressure that people attach to making a souffle will no longer be there.
Make sure your oven is put to the correct temperature beforehand. Once your soufflés go in you’ll then know you have 10 minutes or so to get the plates out and the ice cream up to room temperature (easier to scoop, so faster to plate up!) because the minute those soufflés come out of the oven, you want the plates ready so they can be whizzed off to the table.
Have fun and if you have any questions “ rising “ from this (sorry, Hero’s a bad influence) , give me a call.
PART 1 Marinated Prunes
500g good prunes, pitted
125ml dark rum
Stock syrup made from 60 ml water and 60 g caster sugar
- Place the pitted prunes in a suitable container – a preserving or Kilner jar.
- Cover with the rum, Armagnac and syrup.
- Cover with the lid and leave in the fridge to marinate – ideally for at least two weeks before use but if you’re impatient 24 hours will do!
PART 2 Prune & Armangnac Soufflé Base
Ingredients (for 10 portions):
250g Marinated Prunes
50g Caster Sugar
- Make sure all the prune stones are removed, and then add all the marinated prunes (see Part 1) to a food processor and blend. Pass this mixture through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer, stirring continuously.
- Dissolve the cornflour in the Armagnac, and add this to the prunes. Stir and cook vigorously until it thickens, then cook for a few minutes more. Remove from the heat.
- Mix the sugar and water together in a separate pan and boil up to 121c. Add to the prune mixture and mix in well.
- Leave to cool, and then freeze (see above).
PART 3 The souffle
Ingredients (4 portions)
30g Unsalted Butter
6 Egg Whites
200g Caster Sugar
4 Dessertspoons Prune & Armagnac Soufflé Base (see below)
4 Whole Marinated Prunes
- Grease four individual soufflé dishes well with half the butter. Place in the fridge so that the butter sets hard, then butter again just before pouring in the soufflé mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 180c.
- Put the egg whites in the bowl of your mixer and begin to beat. When they start to take shape, start adding the sugar, a spoonful at a time. When mixed in, add another spoon and so on.
- Put the soufflé base (see Part 2, above) in a rounded bowl, and whisk in a third of a beaten egg white. This loosens the base. Fold in the remaining egg white carefully.
- Half fill the soufflé dishes with the mixture, and then place a whole marinated prune in the centre. Fill to the top with the mixture, and then scrape off evenly with a palette knife. Run your thumb around the edges to push the mixture away from the sides.
- Place on a tray ready for the oven.
- Cook for 8-10 minutes and then serve with a good vanilla ice cream.