Love Is Messy (and so am I)

Frozen Chocolate Souffle

Messy? If you want...

I am terribly vain. My vanity is, however, at cross purposes with my manner of eating, which I self-consciously categorize as “voracious.” A friend has observed that when I eat, the rest of the world disappears. The problem with simultaneously being vain and Hoover-esque when one eats is that invariably one’s clothes suffer. I’m working on it.

It’s not that I’m a drooling mess; it’s not that you can look at my shirt and deduce what I had for lunch; no, it is far more subtle. The usual scenario plays out like this: I do my laundry. I iron a shirt. The shirt looks crisp and clean. I then don the shirt and look in the mirror only to spy a small oil stain (last Tuesday’s lemon vinaigrette perhaps?). My spotty history (as it were).

Yes, the obvious answer would be to either disrobe while I eat (frowned upon in public), or to wear a bib (frowned  upon. Period.) The latter reminds me of a middle aged couple I waited on in a hotel restaurant many-something years ago. Mrs. was clothed (amply) in a gold metallic fabric. When her entrée arrived she reached into her (ample) handbag and withdrew a matching gold metallic bib. That picture burned into my vulnerable mind strikes bibs and metallic fabrics off the list of options. Aside from my spotty shirts, I have also become self-conscious (as any truly vain person would be) that I must look like a woodchuck gnawing at a tree when I eat. Again, I’m working on it: my pinkies are up.

Chocolate and roses are the old standbys of Valentine’s Day. Chocolate is dangerous enough, but dip a strawberry or two in it and my white shirts will cower at the back of the closet.

Good news fellow slobs enthusiastic eaters, Valentine’s Day is an occasion when messy food is welcome; you’re consuming it with someone who knows all your flaws, and still loves you anyway. If you get a little chocolate on your face, someone is there to help you figure out how to clean it off (ahem, this is a family blog.)

Yet, it occurs to me that there are a great many folks on whom these gifts would be lost. Countless women in my life have professed over the years to preferring daisies over roses. Another friend says she loves chocolate but it gives her a headache.

This begs the question: if you’ve been told that someone prefers daisies, but the tradition of the day calls for roses, what do you do? I consulted with a friend and fellow blogger, Jenny Beaudry, founder of the global lifestyle brand GiftLoveCharm.com. Very much an arbiter of trends, tastes, and proper gift giving, Jenny assured me in a flutter of tweets that tradition has its place, but if the gift recipient has expressed a preference, then that preference trumps all. Phew, that’s a relief.

By the way, if you’re wondering where all this discussion of my vanity and being a messy eater came from, I can lay the blame on Valentine’s Day. My plan was to write about Warm Chocolate Soufflé. It is the perfect romantic dessert: gooey, warm, and chocolate. I am a huge fan of all soufflé and I think they have gotten a bad rap. The truth is that they are easy to make, dramatic, yadda yadda yadda.

Alas, I’ll have to save Warm Chocolate Soufflé and the yadda yadda yadda for another day. I have been reminded that on Valentine’s Day many people eat out. Therefore I thought it would be a fun (and better) idea to create a little something that can be waiting at home, no oven required.

That’s not to say that the idea of soufflé has been banished. I have simply turned the temperature down. Way down. Cross out the word “Warm” and scribble in the word “Frozen.” While it seems a touch counterintuitive to make something frozen in the middle of winter, in actuality the frozen part is more about preparation than about temperature. Give me a minute and this will make sense.

Frozen soufflé is usually served in the summer, and is usually flavored with lemon or berries—the better to refresh you with a light touch, my dear. The dessert isn’t really served frozen, it is best when allowed to sit for a few minutes so that some of the chill dissipates. This is a preference that sits especially well with me—I don’t like food at either extreme: too hot or too cold. This is especially true of chocolate. I’ve been known to let chocolate ice cream sit out to the point I call “pre-soup.” I think any chocolate just tastes better closer to room temperature. For frozen soufflé the freezer takes the place of the oven; it is the mode of cooking. You’ll let the soufflé sit for a while, and the result will be supple, rich, très chocolat, and potentially très messy.

Fruit-based frozen soufflé often employ a bit of gelatin to pull everything together. I’m not a fan; I think that gelatin can lend a rubbery texture. This is especially out of place with chocolate. Instead, this recipe is based on a sturdy Italian meringue in which the sugar is cooked to the soft ball stage. The foamy meringue gives the whole package its rich airiness.

Yes, a touch of work is required, but the work can be done several days in advance and the result stashed lovingly in the freezer. You can dine out on the big day smirking with the self satisfied knowledge that something good is waiting at home.

Double entendre anyone?

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Click here for the recipe for Frozen Chocolate Soufflé.

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Write to me at the email address below with any questions or thoughts you may have. Thanks!

Let me email you when the blog has been updated! Opt in by clicking the biscotti at right or by sending your email address to michael@butterfloureggs.com

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One Response to “Love Is Messy (and so am I)”

  • Heidi:

    Hi M, Can I make this a day in advance and place in the fridge or does it have to be made on the day? I see you write 3 hours in advance, but just want to ensure. I am LOVING this recipe! H xo

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