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Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Vanilla Souffle

Souffle.

That word had always frightened me.

From the days of cartoons depicting a majestic souffle falling at the cry of a baby or slam of a door, I feared that hours of hard work would result in nothing more than a popped balloon of a dessert. Valentine's Day this year brought a renewed kitchen spirit and culinary bravery to wow my husband with Julia Child's favorite dessert creation and the first in her MAFC's Volume I section on Souffles -- the Vanilla Souffle. She writes this recipe as the base for more elaborate and flavored souffles, so I decided to start small and basic.

This is where I always recommend you read the entire recipe before starting it. I decided to make the souffle the day before, as Valentine's Day fell on a Monday this year. Big mistake. Within two hours of taking the souffle out of the oven on Sunday afternoon, it was less than half of it's size upon removal from the oven. Here is a photo of the souffle at it's height of perfection (get it?).

All in all, it was a delightful recipe. We still enjoyed it -- I just rewarmed it a bit in the oven right before serve time and dressed it up with a little chocolate sauce on the plate. Fresh berries would have been nice there too.

Chef's note: Place your souffle in the oven just as you are beginning dinner. With about 30 minutes of cook time, you'll be presenting a lovely dish just as your dinner dishes are cleared away.

When plating the souffle, I suggest you place one of the following on the plate beneath the dessert:
- Peach Marmalade
- Chocolate Sauce
- Warm Peanut Butter (warm 1/4 c of Peanut Butter in a sauce pan for 10 minutes until thinned)
- Apricot Preserves
- Strawberry Pie Filling
- Fresh Blueberries and Strawberries

Finish off the plate with a light dusting of powdered sugar and present to your waiting guests!

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