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Chestnut Soufflé

The perfect holiday recipe, straight from Mr. Valentino's "At the Emperor's Table"

If there's ever a time to go for it in the kitchen, it's Thanksgiving. Even if you're the kind of person who prefers recipes with three or fewer ingredients, there's something about the holiday that tempts out your hidden master chef. If you're dying to be the host-with-the-most this season, take a cue from Mr. Valentino, who knows a thing or two about entertaining. His tome At the Emperor's Table is a treasure trove of inspiration about how to lay a beautiful table, and it also includes a handful of recipes ideal for winter soirees. To wit, the book's recipe for Frozen Chestnut Soufflé—a challenging confection, to be sure, but one that will just as surely have your guests giving you thanks for going to the trouble. And what says holiday more than chestnuts?

 

Frozen Chestnut Soufflé

For the soufflé:

4 ½ Tbsp mineral water

6.7 oz. xylitol sweetener

12 large egg yolks, beaten

1 vanilla bean

1 quart heavy cream

2 lb chestnut cream

Italian merinque (recipe below)

Hazelnut streusel (recipe below)

 

  • Boil the water and sweetener into syrup, cooking it to 250 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pour the syrup in a thin stream into the beaten egg yolks, while whisking. Beat the mixture until it cools.
  • Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the heavy cream, then whip the cream into firm peaks.
  • In a large stainless steel bowl, stir together the chestnut cream and the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the whipped cream.
  • Pour the mixture into a tall, 8" pastry ring lined with parchment and freeze overnight.
  • Ten minutes before serving, remove from freezer, lift off ring and peel away parchment. Spread the meringue on top and decorate with nuggets of streusel.

 

For the Italian meringue:

1 lb. xylitol sweetener

2/3 cup mineral water

8 egg whites

 

  • Cook the sweetener and water in a saucepan, stirring, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Beat the egg whites with a handheld mixer on medium speed, until they hold stiff peaks.
  • Very gradually pour all the hot syrup into the beaten egg whites, while whisking
  • Beat merinque on high speed with the mixer until cool

 

For the hazelnut streusel:

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

3 Tbsp brown sugar

2 ¼ oz. ground hazelnut

3 Tbsp kamut flour

2 pinches salt

 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Beat together all ingredients with handheld mixer on medium speed, until the mixture is homogenous
  • Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes

 

Final touches: Add the meringue to the top of the ring of soufflé; surround on the plate with bits of streusel.

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