Cold, refreshing souffles: desserts for a summer night

The secret of a perfect dessert souffle is in the egg whites, which should reach room temperature before they are beaten. For best results, use a wire whisk in a copper bowl.The slight acidity of the copper combines with the albumen in the eggs to increase the egg whites to seven times their original volume, a process that can be performed in a third less time than with an electric beater.

If you use an electric beater, add a pinch of cream of tartar to the egg whites. Don't fold the egg whites completely into the flavoring mixture, or your souffle will collapse. Ten to 12 blendings with a spatula will do.

Either the dessert souffle or a mousse can be made the night before or early on the day of serving. Store in the refrigerator, covered, to prevent drying and evaporation.

From this basic souffle recipe, you can produce vanilla, chocolate, and fruit desserts. Basic Cold Vanilla Souffle 1 envelope unflavored gelatin 1/2 cup sugar 1 cup milk 2 eggs, seperated 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 3/4 cup heavy cream

Mix gelatin and sugar in top of doubled boiler. Gradually stir in milk. Set over simmering water and heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Mix a little of the hot mixture into lightly beaten egg yolks. Return to pan and cook, stirring , 2 to 3 minutes until slightly thickened. Pour into large bowl and mix in vanilla. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, then chill until mixture mounds when dropped from a spoon.

Whip cream into soft peaks and fold in. With separate beaters, beat egg whites to stiff peaks and fold in. Spoon into 1-quart souffle dish and chill until firm. Top with fluffs of whipped cream, and with fresh berries or slivered almonds, or both, if desired. Serves 4. Cold Fruit Souffle

Prepare as directed above for Vanilla Souffle, but substitute 1 1/4 cups of any fruit puree for the milk and use 1 egg yolk only. Flavor with 1/4 teaspoon almond extract instead of vanilla. Otherwise, proceed as directed, folding in whipped cream and beaten egg whites Serves 4. Cold Lemon Souffle

Prepare as directed above for Vanilla Souffle but substitute 1/2 cup each lemon juice and water for milk and 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind for the vanilla. Serves 4. Cold Chocolate Souffle

Prepare as directed above for Vanilla Souffle and while gelatin mixture is still hot, mix in 2 1/2 (1-ounce) coarsely grated squares unsweetened chocolate, stirring until melted. Garnish with chocolate curls and fluffs of whipped cream. Serves 4. Garnish with ring of chocolate curls. Have chocolate at room temperature and curl with vegetable peeler. Cover and chill mousse at least 2 hours. Summer Berry Mousse (Strawberry, Raspberry, Blueberry, Blackberry) 2 pints fresh berries, rinsed and hulled 5 egg yolks 2/3 cup sugar 2 cups milk 3 1/4 envenlopes plain gelatin 1 pint heavy cream

Puree berries in blender or pass through a sieve. Reserve a few to use as garnish. Beat egg yolks with sugar. Bring milk to a boil. Remove from heat and quickly stir into egg mixture. Taste and add more sugar if desired. Heat again, without boiling, until thick, stirring constantly.

Dissolve gelatin in water according to package directions. Add gelatin and berry puree. Put aside to cool. When mixture just begins to set, fold in whipped cream. Put in a mold and decorate top with whole berries. Cool in refrigerator 3 hours. Serves 6 to 8. Ginger Peachy Souffle 1 cup boiling water 1 3-ounce package peach flavored gelatin 3 large fresh peaches, peeled and sliced plus 3/4 cup water or 1 can (16 ounce) sliced cling peaches and liquid 1/4 cup lemon juice 2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger 8 to 10 ice cubes, depending on size 1 cup heavy cream, whipped

In 5-cup blender container, combined water and gelatin. Cover and blend at low speed until gelatin is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add peaches, lemon juice , and candied ginger. Recover and whir at high speed until smooth. Add ice cubes, one at a time, until ice is melted. Pour mixture into large mixing bowl. Chill until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon, about 20 minutes.

In a small deep mixing bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into gelatin mixture with rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Pour into 1-quart souffle dish with 2-inch collar. Chill until firm, about 2 hours. Remove collar before serving. Serves 8.

Note: The purpose of a collar on the souffle dish is to keep the contents from spilling over the edge. To prepare the collar, tear off a lenght of was paper long enough to encircle the dish and allow a 2-inch overlap. Fold the paper in half, lengthwise. For additional rigidity, make a one-half-inch fold at the folded edge. Butter the top third of the folded paper on one side and sprinkle with sugar. Tie the collar around the souffle dish with a piece of string.

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