For a showstopping holiday dessert, make a soufflé (recipe)

A soufflé is a classic, egg-based French dish that can be prepared savory or sweet. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)

WASHINGTON — If you’re looking for a showstopping dessert to add to your holiday spread, consider a soufflé — because nothing says drama like a cake that magically rises from a ramekin and deflates with a single strike of the spoon.

The classic French dish can be prepared as a savory side (Julia Child is known for her cheese soufflé), but at D.C.’s historic Hay-Adams hotel, pastry chef Elenor Frantz showcases the sweeter side of the egg-based dish with her Williams pear soufflé — and she’s sharing her recipe.

Before your roll up your sleeves and rise to the occasion, Frantz has a few wise words of advice. First, she said, the key to a successful soufflé lies in the meringue. Once the egg whites reach a medium peak, gently — repeat, gently — fold them into the pastry cream. If you overmix the meringue, you risk letting all the air out and losing a nice rise.

Elenor Frantz is the pastry chef at Hay-Adams, where she whips up a Williams pear soufflé. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)

Second, to ensure the soufflé shoots up evenly in the oven, Frantz brushes the ramekin with butter in a down-up pattern until the entire interior is greased.

Finally, Frantz said don’t be intimidated by an otherwise simple recipe. The soufflé’s appeal — its impressive puff — is also what keeps many homecooks from attempting the technique, for fear of a flat and fallen dessert. Frantz said as long as you have a good meringue and keep an eye on the oven, you’ll be fine. And your guests will think you’re a culinary genius.

“It’s a wow-factor if you’re trying to impress at home. I think it’s one of the best recipes that you can show off,” Frantz said.

Williams Pear Soufflé
Courtesy Hay-Adams, Elenor Apolonio-Frantz
Recipe serves four people


  • ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ Tbsp cornstarch
  • ¾ cup of sugar
  • 3 ¾ cups of pear puree
  • ¼ cup of Williams pear brandy
  • 1 ½ cups of milk
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 TSP cream of tartar

Recipe Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease four 6-ounce soufflé ramekins with butter and coat with a layer of sugar.
  2. In a bowl, mix the sugar, flour, and cornstarch. Separate the eggs and add yolks to dry mixture, mix, and set aside.
  3. In a medium pan, place the pear puree, milk and pear brandy and bring to a boil. Pour half the liquid into dry ingredients (in small amounts at first to temper the egg), whisking until smooth, forming a batter.
  4. Place the pan back on low heat. Add the mixture and stir until smooth and a pastry cream consistency forms (approximately 2 minutes). Place pastry cream in a pan in the fridge until cold. (Tip: Put a layer of plastic wrap on top of the cream so a film does not form.)
  5. Meanwhile, in a mixer, whisk the egg whites with cream of tartar over low speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high. Continue to beat the egg whites until they reach a medium peak.
  6. Gently fold the egg whites into the chilled pastry cream, scoop the mixture into the ramekins and tap the bottom to settle. (Tip: Frantz runs a towel along the edge of the ramekin so the soufflé rises evenly.)
  7. Place the ramekins into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. (Tip: Serve immediately. Once done, the soufflés will remain puffed for about 5 minutes before they begin to shrink. You can also top the soufflé with powdered sugar.)

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