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Surprise Your Valentine With a Souffle!

By Wolfgang Puck, Tribune Media Services on

I've always loved to cook, and I always put that love into everything that I cook. Which explains why I enjoying preparing special treats for Valentine's Day, a holiday dedicated to sweet love -- and to a love of sweets.

Often, people take the easy way out on Valentine's Day and just buy each other chocolates. Instead, why not put some extra love into the holiday this year and create an out-of-the-ordinary dish filled with sweet sensations especially for your Valentine? Make souffles!

My recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Souffles will really get your loved one's attention. Its mixture of tropical fruit and chocolate is one of the great dessert flavor combinations, wonderfully tantalizing, complex, and satisfying.

You can add the word "easy" to those adjectives, too. Yes, souffles, considered by some cooks to be difficult, can actually be a snap.

This one starts out simply because, unlike classic souffles, it doesn't require that you make a thick pastry cream base by carefully cooking together egg yolks, sugar, flour, and milk. Instead, the recipe gets its body largely from a base of pureed ripe bananas, which also helps to make these souffles more stable than some of the classic ones that have cooks tiptoeing around the kitchen during baking.

To get the right consistency, and a full, sweet banana flavor, be sure to use bananas that are very ripe. You'll know they are when their skins are covered in brown spots, with no hints of green. Go buy the bananas now and leave them out on your kitchen counter so they'll be ready on the big day!


The chocolate is important, too. Don't use milk chocolate, which has too mild a flavor to stand up to the banana's rich, complex, tropical sweetness. Instead, look for good-quality semisweet chocolate. You'll only need a 1-ounce piece, but that's OK; you can save the rest to nibble on with your sweetheart.

Many people worry that the timing of souffles is crucial, and that they'll get distracted, or that the preparation will cause a lapse in time between the main course and dessert. That certainly isn't the case here. You can actually prepare the souffle mixture and put it in the individual ramekins several hours ahead of time and just leave them in the refrigerator. Then, start preheating the oven around the time you serve your main course. After you clear those plates, pop the souffles in the oven and make coffee or relax over the last of your wine.

In no more than about a quarter hour later, you'll have the perfect romantic dessert ready to share. And remember: With this easy recipe, you can go on celebrating Valentine's Day as often as you want throughout the year.



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