À Bout de Souffle (Grand Marnier)

November 3, 2011

Classical thermodynamics…is the only physical theory of universal content which I am convinced…will never be overthrown.
~Albert Einstein

The chemistry of a soufflé is relatively simple. First the yolks (mostly fats) are separated from the whites or albumen (more proteins) which uncoil their spiral shapes as they are beaten until just stiff, a process called denaturation. The egg white proteins latch onto one another and create a miniscule web of trapped air bubbles. Actually, the protein in the egg whites forms a kind of skin around these bubbles.

When the yolks and whites are gently folded together and the batter is heated, the air bubbles expand and give the soufflé its almost gravity-defying puffed up architecture. Obeying the laws of thermodynamics which study the relation between heat and energy, the soufflé follows the natural tendency for things to move from order towards chaos and randomness. (The 2nd Rule at work.) After rising, with even slight cooling—energy is lost, entropy ensues and that fateful collapse occurs.

Served immediately, a Grand Marnier soufflé is breathtaking.


1/3 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C sugar
1 C milk

2 T butter
5 large egg yolks
3 T Grand Marnier

Butter, for greasing

5 large egg whites
1 1/2 T sugar

Confectioner’s sugar
Orange zest

Preheat oven to 375 F

In a small heavy saucepan, whisk the flour and sugar together. In another small heavy saucepan, bring the milk to a gentle simmer. Slowly add the hot milk to the flour mixture, whisking until smooth. Place over medium heat and stir until the mixture simmers and thickens. Stir in the butter, then the egg yolks, one at a time, and then the Grand Marnier. Allow the mixture to cool.

Butter an 8″ soufflé dish and roll the sugar around in it to fully cover the bottom and sides, tapping out any excess. Using a stand up or hand mixer, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, and then gradually beat in the sugar. Beat just until the whites are stiff but not dry. Slowly fold the beaten whites into the soufflé base, until just blended. Turn the mixture into the soufflé dish.

Place the soufflé dish in a baking dish, and add enough hot water to come about 1/2″ up the side of the soufflé dish. Bake until the soufflé has risen just over the rim and is lightly browned, but is still jiggly in the center, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and orange zest. Serve promptly.


One Response to “À Bout de Souffle (Grand Marnier)”

  1. Thanks for such an informative post! This sounds awesome.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: