While Julian and I scrambled for our phones, the souffle deflated and the ice cream melted.
Souffles are only hard if you let them. I've agonized over souffles to gritty, wet, fallen effect. But once I just ran with it, souffles became easy.
My first souffle was a passion fruit souffle in the restaurant at the Continental Resort in Walt Disney World (my first fine dining experience). My best souffle experience was a chartreuse souffle with pistachio ice cream at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris. But you rarely find souffles on restaurant menus. Often "chocolate souffles" are really molten chocolate cakes. A real souffle will require advanced notice, at the beginning of dinner or 20 minutes before your dessert arrives. That's the giveaway to goodness.
My favorite part of the souffle experience is the tableside service. A waiter guts the inside of the souffle and spoons something rich and creamy inside. A souffle is made of two parts -- the cloudlike lift, and the luscious sink.
RECIPE: Preheat toaster oven to 350 degrees. In an electric mixer, whisk 2 room temperature egg whites with one tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon allspice. Bring to a stiff peak. Fold in 1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree and 1 teaspoon maple syrup. Bake for 20 minutes, until top is golden and resists a press of the finger. Spoon out middle and replace with vanilla ice cream. Drizzle with more maple syrup. Serve with two spoons.
Fluffy souffle batter.