Chocolate-Espresso Soufflé with Armagnac Crème Anglaise

Dark chocolate and rich espresso are brought together to form a truly decadent soufflé. This intense dessert is paired with a delicate Armagnac crème anglaise, with spectacular results.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Armagnac Crème Anglaise
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. milk
4 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 lg. egg yolks
2 tbsp. Armagnac

Soufflé Mixture
1/3 c. coffee extract
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
4 lg. egg yolks
6 lg. egg whites
1/4 c. granulated sugar
Unsalted butter and sugar for coating molds
Confectioner's sugar for dusting soufflés

Espresso Coffee Extract
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. finely ground espresso coffee

For the Armagnac crème anglaise:
Stir the cream, milk, 2 tbsp. sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch together in saucepan with whisk until blended, and bring to a boil. Whisk yolks and 2 tbsp. sugar in bowl until smooth. Pour boiling liquid on top of yolks. Mix quickly with the whisk for 5-6 seconds. Strain immediately through a fine strainer. Refrigerate until cooled. Stir in the Armagnac.

For the coffee extract:
Bring the milk to a boil, add the espresso, and stir. Remove from heat. Cover, and let it steep for 2-3 minutes. Strain through paper towels.

For the soufflés:
Preheat oven to 400°. Combine coffee extract with chocolate and stir with a whisk over moderate heat until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add yolks and stir with a whisk. In another bowl, whip the egg whites until holding a peak but not too firm, add the sugar, and beat for 5-10 seconds.

Add 1/4 of egg whites to chocolate mixture and mix well with a whisk. Using a spatula, fold the rest of the egg whites into the chocolate base.

Butter and sugar a 6-8 c. soufflé mold and fill with soufflé. Place the mold on a cookie sheet, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until set but still wet inside.

To serve:
When soufflé is done, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar. Spoon 1/4 c. of Armagnac crème anglaise onto each plate, then put a portion of the soufflé on top.

Recipe courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf, ©2001 Jacques Pépin