The Los Angeles chef is making caramel soufflés to open a new season of Ludo à la Maison.
“Everybody’s scared to do soufflé,” says Ludo Lefebvre, chef-partner at Trois Mec and Petit Trois in LA. “I’m scared too—trust me. You never know what can happen with a soufflé.” But he has a recipe that makes this sometimes-terrifying process totally worth it.
This week, Ludo shows us how to make a caramel soufflé with a citrus vanilla whipped cream. It’s not foolproof—no soufflé is. “Mistakes happen,” he says. “It’s a lot about practice, and also a lot about luck...but it’s just so good!”
The base of his soufflé is a crème pâtissière, which Ludo says is a mother sauce for French pastry. To make it, first boil a pot of whole milk on the stove, then add sugar and egg yolks to the bowl of a stand mixer (make sure to save the whites) and whip until creamy. Add flour, then slowly pour the boiling milk into the bowl until incorporated.
Once the mixture is smooth, transfer it back to the pot on the stovetop and cook until thickened—about three minutes after it starts to boil. “Make sure it doesn't stick on the bottom,” says Ludo, whisking constantly.
Next you’ll need to make a caramel—and don’t be afraid of overcooking. “Make sure you really burn your caramel,” says Ludo. “Like we say in Burgundy: when it’s black, it’s cooked.” Once it’s desirably dark, pour the caramel into the crème pâtissière with one hand while whisking quickly with the other. Put it in the fridge once it’s blended.
Ludo has a special technique for preparing the ramekins for the soufflés—use a piece of paper to spread butter up and down the sides of the mold and then coat them with sugar. This will prevent a lopsided raise.
Whip your remaining egg whites in a stand mixer while adding sugar—the final texture should be somewhat like a meringue. Gently fold the whites into the caramel crème and pour into the soufflé molds.
“Now it’s time to do a prayer,” says Ludo, popping them into a 400F oven. After crossing himself multiple times, he pulls out perfectly raised soufflés—topping with powdered sugar and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.