Pistachio soufflé

How to make a pistachio soufflé

By BBC Maestro

Light in the mouth and rich on the palette, a soufflé is a perfect addition to a delicious meal. You may opt for a buttery cheese soufflé or an oozing chocolate one, or you may prefer the warm nuttiness of a pistachio soufflé. 

In this article, we’ll share how to make the perfect pistachio soufflé, with the help of French chef Pierre Koffmann.

What is a soufflé?

Famous for its place in French cuisine, a soufflé is a light and airy sponge cake made mainly from eggs and sugar. Despite its simple ingredients, a perfectly made soufflé is widely applauded by many eaters and critics alike, as its success often heavily relies on the chef’s attention to detail and timekeeping skills. A properly crafted souffle will double in volume once cooked. Its texture will appear puffed and golden, yet soft, and it should jiggle slightly when gently shaken.

When you start service in a restaurant, if the first table go for a soufflé, you can be sure on the night that half of the restaurant (minimum) will go for a soufflé.

Pierre Koffmann, French chef

French chef Marie-Antoine Carême, was the chef behind the soufflé’s rising popularity. Described by many as the ‘father of French haute cuisine’ he perfected the recipe and published it in his book Le Pâtissier Royal Parisien in 1815. Marie Antoine Carême went on to create many variations of soufflé, and since then, others have followed in his footsteps.

Today soufflés can be sweet or savoury. Savoury soufflés can be a popular starter or main dish on restaurant or dinner party menus. Popular flavours are often cheese-based, such as Gruyère or goats’ cheese and herbs, whilst other recipes are known to use smoked salmon, mushrooms or ham. Sweet soufflé recipes extend from rich chocolate and tangy raspberry to passionfruit and, of course, pistachio.

Souffle with cheese

Pistachio soufflé recipe

To master a puffy and bouncy soufflé requires dedication to the process. In this souffle recipe, you’ll need a pistachio crème pâtissière – a rich, creamy custard – which plays a key role in the soufflé mixture. 

“This is something I did in the beginning of La Tante Claire restaurant, and it was an instant success. People love soufflé,” says Pierre Koffmann, in his BBC Maestro French cooking course.

To make the pistachio crème pâtissière:

  • 500ml whole milk
  • 120g egg yolks
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 40g pistachio paste
  • 50g plain flour
  1. Heat the milk in a pan over a medium heat and bring to a boil.
  2. As the milk heats up, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar for 5 minutes. You want to keep doing this until they are mixed together, the volume of the mixture has increased, and the colour of the mixture is lighter.
  3. Then add the flour and whisk thoroughly.
  4. Once the milk comes to a boil, whisk in the pistachio paste until combined. “When you cook the pistachio with the milk, you’ve got that beautiful aroma and it reminds you of when you were kids,” says Pierre Koffmann.
  5. Slowly pour a little hot milk into the egg yolk mixture and whisk. Continue to add more milk, little by little, whilst continuously whisking. Then tip the whole mixture back into the pan of hot milk and heat on a medium heat. Cook the mix, stirring gently with your spatula until it becomes very thick. Tip the mix into a bowl and leave to cool completely.
Pistachio soufflé served with pistachio ice cream

To make 2 soufflés:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 100g pistachio crème pâtissière
  • Icing sugar to serve
  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F.
  2. Pour the egg whites into a mixing bowl and whisk until thick and the volume of the mixture has increased. Add the caster sugar and keep whisking until you create a thick, glistening meringue.
  3. Beat the pistachio crème pâtissiere in a clean bowl.
  4. When you’re confident your meringue is done, add two heaped dessert spoons of the meringue into the crème pâtissiere mixture, but this time, fold it in gently using your spatula. “What you want to achieve is a perfect mix between the meringue and the crème, you don’t want to finish with a big blob of meringue in the middle of your soufflé,” explains Pierre Koffmann.
  5. Fill 2 ramekins with the souffle mixture, giving them a gentle tap on the kitchen worktop to ensure there are no air pockets. Use a knife to smooth the surface of the souffle and then run your thumb around the edge of the ramekin to encourage it to rise without sticking to the sides.
  6. Slide the souffles into the oven for 12-15 minutes. Keep an eye on them. They should rise and be golden on the surface.
  7. Remove them from the oven and dust with icing sugar. You can enjoy them on their own or with cream, sorbet or ice cream. In his BBC Maestro French cooking course, Pierre Koffmann takes great delight in making a pistachio ice cream to accompany the soufflé. They’re best enjoyed served straight from the oven.

It’s no surprise the soufflé has been satisfying diners for over two hundred years. Its decadence and simplicity are an ode to the craftsmanship of French cuisine. Enjoy making this French favourite, the delicious and timeless pistachio soufflé. If you’re keen to experiment with other cuisines, take a look at some of our other online cooking courses.

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