Inspired by Julia Child’s classic cheese soufflé, the béchamel sauce is made with a heavy handful of cheese and yolks, folded into a whipped egg white then folded into the eggy, cheesy custard base. The light pockets of air from the whisked egg whites expand with the heat of baking making the soufflé lift and grow to an air-like texture.
No. 1 | Preheat the oven to 400°. Butter the ramekins and dust lightly with flour. Shake and roll them around to ensure there is even coverage and place them in the fridge while you prepare the soufflé. Measure out all of your ingredients. Prepare a large bowl for whisking your egg whites by rubbing the inside with half a lemon and wiping dry with a clean cloth.
No. 2 | Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until it foams together for 2 minutes, being careful not to allow it to brown. Pour in the milk and whisk vigorously until it’s well blended. Whisk in the salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Allow to boil for one minute while stirring and remove from heat. Immediately begin separating the eggs.
No. 3 | Separating one egg at a time, drop the egg whites into your whites bowl, and beat the egg yolk into the sauce. Repeat until you have 4 yolks in the sauce, then add an additional white into the whites bowl.
No. 4 | Beat the egg whites with the salt at high speed until they form stiff peaks. Very carefully stir in ¼ of the egg whites into the soufflé sauce. Stir in all but 2 tablespoons of the grated cheese. Delicately fold in the remaining egg whites, being careful not to over fold.
No. 5 | Pour equal amounts of the soufflé mixture into the prepared ramekins until they are little over ¾ full. Lightly tap each ramekin on the counter to remove air bubbles and smooth the top. Sprinkle each soufflé with the remaining cheese. Place on a baking sheet in the middle of the oven. Immediately lower the heat to 375° and bake for 14-17 minutes. Use the oven light and remove the soufflés once they are puffed about 1 inch above the rims of ramekins.
No. 6 | Serve immediately. Soufflés can deflate very quickly and should be served within a few minutes of being removed from the oven.