Edna Lewis' Chocolate Souffle

This was Edna Lewis' signature dessert during the heyday of Cafe Nicholson in New York City.

Makes 4 to 6 servings


1 cup milk
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, grated
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup hot water
2 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
4-5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/3 cups egg whites
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Hot Chocolate Sauce:

1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, grated
1 ½ cups cold water
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
small piece vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Vanilla-flavored Sweetened Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla


To make the chocolate sauce it will hold while you are preparing the soufflé which will not hold. Put the grated chocolate, sugar, and water in a saucepan stirring often for about 20 minutes. The sauce should barely simmer. Just before serving, stir in the vanilla and serve hot.

Preheat the oven to 425.

 To make the soufflé: slowly heat the milk with the vanilla beans (if you are using vanilla add it later) in a heavy saucepan. Remove the vanilla Bean. Add the grated chocolate and butter and stir rapidly with a whisk over medium heat. When the sauce has thickened and is smooth, remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the hot water, stirring. If using vanilla, add it now. Beat the egg yolks with the slat and sugar until light. Stir this into the sauce and continue to stir constantly for about 4 minutes. When ready the mixture should look smooth and satiny. Let it cool briefly. 

Rinse each soufflé dish with hot water and quickly dry so they stay warm. Butter each one with about ¼ teaspoon of softened butter, and leave them on the stove to keep warm. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Pour the chocolate mixture over the whites and fold the two together. Spoon the soufflé batter into the buttered, warm soufflé dishes, filling each about three-fourths full. Put the soufflés in the oven and reduce heat to 400. Bake the soufflés 12 to 13 minutes. )If making the soufflé in a 2 quart soufflé dish, bake it for 15-20 minutes). Remove the soufflés from the oven and dust the tops with confectioners’ sugar.

To make the whipped cream: Whip the cream until nearly stiff. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until the cream is stiff. Serve the chocolate sauce and whipped cream on the side.