2000s Recipes + Menus

Fig Armagnac Soufflés with Pistachio Crème Anglaise

  • Active time:30 min
  • Start to finish:2 3/4 hr (includes making and chilling crème anglaise)
February 2009
These uncomplicated, virtually foolproof soufflés will make your loved ones feel indulged and sophisticated. At Table One, in the Hotel Bel-Air—mentioned in the February 2009 issue’s “Lovin’ Spoonfuls,” by Bruce Feiler—they’re made with fresh figs in addition to dried ones; because fresh figs aren’t available in February, we substituted pear, which has a similar deep sweetness.
  • 1/3 cup Armagnac
  • 3 dried figs, stems trimmed
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 firm-ripe pear (about 1/2 lb), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 3/4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 6 large egg whites at room temperature 30 minutes
  • Heat Armagnac in a small saucepan over medium heat until warm, then pour over figs in a very small bowl. Soak 2 hours.
  • Drain figs and reserve Armagnac for another use.
  • Bring 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Add pear and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 10 minutes, then drain pear, discarding liquid.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.
  • Purée pear and figs in a food processor until smooth, then force through a fine-mesh sieve into cleaned small saucepan. Whisk in cornstarch, 3 Tbsp sugar, and remaining Tbsp water and bring to a simmer over low heat, whisking constantly. Transfer to a large bowl and cool to room temperature.
  • Generously butter soufflé dishes (using 1 Tbsp butter) and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp sugar.
  • Beat egg whites with an electric mixer, gradually adding remaining 1/2 cup sugar, until they just hold stiff, glossy peaks. Fold one third of whites into fruit purée to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Spoon into soufflé dishes, leveling top with a spatula. Run your thumb along inner edge of each dish to make an indentation about 1/2 inch deep and 1/2 inch wide.
  • Bake on a baking sheet until puffed and golden brown, about 12 minutes. Serve immediately; using 2 forks, gently pull open center of each soufflé and pour some crème anglaise into it.
Cooks’ note: Fruit purée (before cooking with cornstarch) can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
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