Many years ago I came across a beautiful set of prints of recipes written by Alice Waters in 1968. This was before she opened Chez Panisse (1971) and before she became Alice Waters. The printmaker was the masterful David Lance Goines, creator of posters for Chez Panisse’s annual birthday celebration (posters for 1st, 2nd, 30th, 31st), a poster for Acme Bread, and Ravenswood’s logo, for example. Of the thirty in the set, I chose four for archival framing: Moroccan Carrots, La Sauce Mayonnaise, Cherries Jubilee, and — the item relevant to IMBB #20 — Apricot Souffle. They have graced my kitchen with their elegance ever since.
Despite the recipe’s constant presence in my kitchen, I have never baked the souffle. The main reason is that the first instruction is horribly vague: “Add to one small jar of good quality apricot jam two egg yolks…” Were jars of jam sized S, M, L in 1968? They sure aren’t these days, and the wide variety of jams at some of the local grocery stores only added to my confusion.
IMBB #20 inspired me to give it a try. If it failed, I could always fall back on the chocolate souffle with melted center from Gramercy Tavern that was published in the N.Y. Times Magazine (and is now behind the dollar wall), or experiment with a Indian-spiced vanilla souffle (steep cinnamon sticks, green cardamom pods, cloves, etc. in cream for the souffle base).
I took a somewhat wild guess at what “small jar” could mean and used 1/2 cup of Darbo All Natural brand (Austrian) for the jam. The results were excellent. The souffles (photos at the bottom of the post) had great oven spring, a lovely golden-orange color, deep apricot flavor, and bright notes from the amaretto. Finely chopped almonds sprinkled on the top before baking provided a little bit of crunch.
Based on the 1968 recipe by Alice Waters
1/2 cup good quality, not too chunky apricot jam
2 egg yolks
1 T. amaretto, kirsch, or orange liqueur
6 egg whites
Ground or finely chopped almonds
8 ramekins with 1/2 cup capacity each, or a 1 quart souffle dish
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Butter and sugar the baking dish(es).
- Combine the jam with the egg yolks and liqueur in a large bowl (the egg whites will be folded into this base). If the jam is very thick, pour it into a saucepan and gently warm it until it melts. Then stir in the egg yolks and liqueur.
- In a sparkling clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry (the bowl must be very clean because fat severly inhibits the formation of egg foam).
- Gently fold the egg whites into the jam/yolk base.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared dish(es). For the best visual effect, fill the dish(es) all the way to the top. Sprinkle the top with ground almonds.
- Place the ramekin(s) directly into the oven, or place on a baking sheet to prevent drips from falling onto the oven floor.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F. For a large dish, bake for 20-25 minutes (until risen and golden on top). For the small ramekins, bake for 10-12 minutes (until risen and golden on top).
If you want a more thoroughly tested recipe for apricot souffle (i.e., tested more than once!), Chez Panisse Desserts has two versions, and I would guess that Chez Panisse Fruit also has a version or two.