Sunday, February 24, 2019

Acorn Squash Soufflé

wedge of acorn squash souffle with spoon and napkin
Serve Warm, Room Temp, or Chilled

Recipe adapted from Simplicity from a Monastery Kitchen

This last of a trio of soufflé recipes from an upstate New York monastery cookbook is perhaps my favorite, though it barely surpasses the classic cheese soufflé in deliciousness, and the apple soufflé is easier to prepare. This is a dessert soufflé, taking advantage of acorn squash’s natural sweetness, enhanced by small amounts of maple syrup and sugar. The cookbook suggests serving it warm, but it’s also good at room temperature, and IMHO even better chilled, like a light pumpkin-ish pudding infused with the unique flavor of acorn squash.

acorn squash souffle cut into wedges
Cool 10 Minutes Before Slicing
The recipe calls for 2 medium acorn squash, which is a variable amount. I had one large yellow squash acorn squash from a months-ago trip to the Farmers’ Market, so that’s what I used, and it yielded 2 cups of cooked squash. I’ve done some research into other squash soufflé recipes, and it seems like the amount can be up to 4 cups and still balance with the 5 eggs. Personally, I’ll stick approximately to the 2-cup quantity because the soufflé came out fluffy and perfectly spiced, flavored lightly with acorn squash.

cut up acorn squash in steamer
Steaming Acorn Squash: the Yellow Variety
Like other classic soufflés, this one starts with a roux (thickened butter and milk mixture), but with cornstarch instead of flour. It’s easy to overcook a cornstarch roux, so don’t over-thicken it, and continue to stir it as it cools so the surface doesn’t dry out. You’ll need an electric mixer with two bowls, one to beat the egg whites, and another to beat the yolks, then beat in the roux, squash, and spices. My mixer has only one bowl, and that makes prep rather inconvenient.

Although the flavor of acorn squash is delightfully distinctive, you could try this recipe with pumpkin or the blander winter squashes like butternut if you have them on hand. Enjoy this sweet alternative to baking or steaming the last of the season’s winter squash.

wedge of acorn squash souffle
Slice of Heaven
Acorn Squash Soufflé
serves 6

~2 cups cooked acorn squash (1 large or 2 medium)
¼ cup (½ stick) butter plus butter for greasing
¼ cup cornstarch
1½ cups milk
¼ cup pure maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
5 eggs at room temperature, separated
¼ - 1/3 cup sugar

If squash is uncooked, remove the seeds and steam for 20 – 25 minutes till tender. Cool and scoop out pulp, then pureé with immersion blender or mash and whip thoroughly.

Generously grease a 2.5-liter soufflé dish with butter. Set aside.

Make the roux: Melt butter in deep saucepan over medium low heat. Dissolve cornstarch completely in the milk. Add mixture slowly to melted butter, stirring constantly. Stir in maple syrup, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Continue to stir constantly until all ingredients are well blended (particularly the butter), and mixture begins to thicken. Don’t overcook. Remove from heat and stir occasionally to avoid the surface becoming dry and gummy.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks with mixer. Gradually add pureéd squash, roux mixture, and sugar (I prefer the smaller amount of sugar). Continue beating with the mixer until mixture becomes smooth and well blended.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry with a clean mixer.

Add about 1 cup of the beaten egg whites to the squash mixer and fold in. Scrape mixture into a large flat-bottom mixing bowl.

Using a rubber spatula, fold remaining egg whites into the squash mixture. Turn into the buttered soufflé dish.

Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until soufflé is set and lightly browned. Serve hot, or at room temperature. Allow leftovers to cool completely, cover, and store in refrigerator. Eat chilled leftovers within a day or so.
small amount of eggwhites on yolk mixture
Fold in a Bit of Egg White
cloud of eggwhites over yolk mixture
Then Add the Rest of the Egg Whites
eggs and yolk mixture being folded together
Fold Gently Together
perfectly formed wedge of acorn squash souffle
Chilled Slices are Firmer than Hot Slices

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