Let’s talk about special-occasion desserts. In other words, not pumpkin pie, or bread pudding, or angel food cake, which, however delicious, leave something to be desired in the va-va-voom department.

Let’s talk chocolate, and drama, and, well, voom.

A chocolate soufflé has voom to spare. With Valentine’s Day in the wings, serving these individual puffs is a voluptuous, sexy way to end a meal. Yet once you learn the basics of a soufflé, you’ll turn to it when you want to impress your mother-in-law.

Granted, a soufflé comes with a reputation as being high-maintenance. What if it doesn’t rise? What if it falls too soon? Despite the rapturous adjectives, the suspicion exists that, like some blind dates, there’s a reason that certain recipes always are available.

Without sounding too much like that old married couple down the street, we’re here to tell you that anyone can master a soufflé if they just treat it gently and patiently, and don’t get wound up about the little things.

Mark Bittman of the New York Times developed this recipe, but we’ve reduced the serving size a bit and added some additional flavor suggestions. His essential step for success is beating the egg yolks and sugar long enough until the mixture becomes light-colored and creamy like frosting. (This is the “patiently” part, and it takes about 5 minutes.)

Then it’s a matter of folding the eggs into melted chocolate, then folding beaten egg whites into that mixture. (This is the “gently” part.)

You can make and serve the soufflés in tall, straight-sided ramekins, but straight-sided coffee mugs work, too, as do espresso cups (whatever you use must be ovenproof). Balance this intensely chocolate dessert with some custard sauce, fruit coulis, whipped cream or ice cream, and toss on a few raspberries because this is a special occasion.

Best of all, you can do all the prep work a couple of hours before you intend to serve dessert, freeing you to lavish attention on the rest of the meal — or on yourself.


Follow Kim Ode on Twitter: @odewrites