Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day Dammit: Milk Chocolate Soufflé for the Soul

Milk Chocolate Love
Some years Valentine's Day, in all its syrupy-sweet glory, is a natural extension of the fantasmagoric love-fest your life is.  Other years - like this one - it's just another snowy day in what was a pretty crap-tastic, cold, February week.  I sound bitter.  Here's why:

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Top 4 Crappy Things That Have Happened Lately
A Brief, self-thrown-pity-party-filled explanation in list-form

1. Two weeks ago I sprained my foot pretty badly by falling down two of the smallest, most-not-injury-worthy steps into the garage.  Roman was still strapped into his car seat and had to listen to me whimper and moan on the garage floor for several minutes (he was kind of freaking out) until I managed to hobble over and unstrap him.  Crutches, an air cast, ridiculous amounts of Ibuprofen, and two weeks later it's still refusing to fully heal.  I can't even walk up and down stairs comfortably, much less chase Roman or go skiing.  Such a pain.

2. A few days after the epic sprain, I discovered an epic-failure: our beloved pet, Frankie the Betta fish, has a severe case of dropsy and is currently in week # who-knows-how-long-it-took-me-to-notice of a long and inevitably drawn-out death.  I spent an afternoon looking up humane ways to euthanize fish - for which Matt made fun of me mercilessly - only to wuss out and settle on changing his water in order to "make him more comfortable" (whatever that means).  I literally wake up every morning expecting to find him floating upside down and I tell myself I worry because I'm afraid Roman will be upset, but really - it'll be me crying at the backyard funeral.

3. Earlier this week I gently (if that's possible) dropped my iPhone, the way I have a hundred other times.  Naturally, my decision to get the $3 silver-glitter-covered-cover decided to slap me in the face at that very moment and the front of the phone completely shattered.  As stupidly inane and ungrateful as it sounds to complain about, it just pisses me off to have to get a new one and tether myself a further 2-years to AT&T (which is, in and of itself, an irrational reaction as I had no intention of leaving AT&T).

4. Yesterday, I spent a lot of time making individualized Valentines and sprinkle-filled, pink, rice krispy treats painfully (literally) cut-out into heart shapes for Roman's entire pre-school class, only to be told by his teacher when I picked him up today that they "didn't have time to hand his Valentines out."  All this while Roman sweetly complained, "Mommy!  I didn't get to give my friends their treats." [Insert adorable pouty face by Roman and not-so-adorable annoyed face by Mom].

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Ok, ok, it's not that I don't want to celebrate.  Really, I just need something to remind me of the simple pleasures in life - breathe some warmth into the cold Denver winter, and even soothe my whiny little soul a tiny bit.  Something to show me the silver linings.

Lucky for me, Matt is cooking me a special, romantic dinner tonight.  I'm not sure what it will comprise of but I know this much: it will taste great!

I know this because dinner pretty much always tastes great when I'm being cooked for, but also because Matt so rarely cooks that I honestly believe God has bestowed him with some sort of permanent beginner's-luck-thing.  His food is always awesome - no matter how randomly or haphazardly prepared.

The only thing I'm responsible for tonight, besides this awesome Valentine's gift I found for Matt at Target, is dessert.  I wanted to make something special, kind of fancy, but not over the top in terms of work, time-commitment or flashiness.

Enter the Bon Appetit Milk Chocolate Soufflé.

There's something magical-sounding about the world soufflé - to "puff" or "blow up" (but prettier sounding) in French.  I think it will bring a fun but somewhat dramatic air to the closing of the dinner, without going too far into the realm of wannabe-chef.  I mean, how seriously can you take milk chocolate, even if it is gourmet and even if it is in a beautifully puffed up soufflé?
Which brings me back to the week-long pity party I've been holding for myself and the fact that I need to stop taking that - and myself - so seriously too.  So in the name of milk chocolate's levity, here are all the silver-linings to the above-mentioned Top 4 Crappy Things That Have Happened Lately:

The Silver Lingings
the milk-chocolate-y levity in the situation

1. The Ankle
I totally got pampered by both Matt and Roman for almost an entire week.  Roman learned that he can indeed use his stool to get the milk out of the fridge, and Matt learned that the house really does go to crap pretty quickly when the invisible cleaning fairy is out of commission :)

2. The Dropsy
Part of me believes that Frankie's demise might be karma coming to slap me in the face.  I'd been complaining a LOT lately that it's a lot of work to keep a large fishbowl clean.  I wouldn't be lying if I actually did briefly (ever-so-briefly!) wish Frankie might die soon.  So, in a way, even though it sucks to lose our only pet - I'm secretly pleased that I can de-clutter my counter and stop the bowl-cleaning madness for a while.

3. The iPhone
Oh yeah, I got an iPhone 5 today.  *sheepish grin*

4. The Rice Krispy Treats
I now know that the "raspberry" color combo on the back of neon food coloring is bullshit.  It turns an ugly mauve-y purple color.  Never again.  I also got to snack on the leftover, rather cute rice krispy hearts.  And for once, I rather enjoyed the sprinkles.

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Milk Chocolate Soufflé for the Soul
Using the Bon Appetit Recipe, copied below 
Makes 8 Servings

waiting to be baked
The original recipe also includes a Nougat whip to dollop on top of the soufflés.  It all seemed too rich for me so I didn't make the nougat whip and, instead, served this with plain homemade whipped cream.

12oz high-quality milk chocolate (such as Lindt, Green & Black, or Valrhona), choppedpped 
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 
2 large egg yolks 
Pinch of salt 
6 large egg whites, room temperature 
2 tablespoons sugar
Butter & sugar for ramekins 

The finished product.

1. Butter eight 3/4-cup soufflé dishes; sprinkle with sugar, tilting cups to coat completely and tapping out any excess. Arrange prepared soufflé dishes on large baking sheet.

2. Combine chocolate and cream in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

3. Remove bowl from over water. Stir egg yolks and salt into chocolate mixture.

4. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar, beating until semi-firm peaks form.

5. Using rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten. Fold remaining egg whites into chocolate mixture in 2 additions.

6. Divide chocolate mixture among prepared soufflé dishes, filling dishes completely.  

DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.
7. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Bake soufflés on baking sheet until puffed and tops feel firm, about 16 minutes if at room temperature and about 18 minutes if chilled.

Serve soufflés immediately, passing whipped cream alongside.

 Happy Valentine's Day Dammit. :)

This post has been brought to you by How do you do - a freaky, fascinating, former #1 hit in the 70s that I'm obsessed with.   Thank you Mouth & MacNeal.
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