Marc Forgione, an award-winning chef and the season three winner of the popular series "Next Iron Chef," combines youthful ingenuity with traditional American flavors in his new cookbook, Marc Forgione: Recipes and Stories from the Acclaimed Chef and Restaurant. This recipe for Apple Pie Soufflé + Salted Caramel is a perfect sweet and salty ending to any dinner party: get ready to hear a lot of "wow" from your guests.

APPLE PIE SOUFFLÉ + SALTED CARAMEL

MAKES 4 TO 6 (6-OUNCE) SOUFFLÉS

This dessert was originally created during an "Iron Chef America" episode for a familiar-to-me themed battle—Thanksgiving—except this was round two, and I was paired with Jose Garces, an Iron Chef, against two other Iron Chefs: Michael Symon and Bobby Flay. Since I was going up against some very stiff competition, I knew I had to dig deep into my bag of tricks and pull out something that would truly wow the judges. The soufflé didn’t disappoint, and Henry Winkler, a.k.a. “the Fonz,” who was one of the judges, said it was the best soufflé he’d ever had.

The recipe here makes six dessert-size soufflés, but if you happen to be making dinner for four people, stick with these proportions (3 cups apple puree to 1½ cups whipped egg whites) to get a perfect soufflé every time. No one has ever complained about having an extra soufflé lying around.

FOR THE SALTED CARAMEL

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt, plus additional to taste

FOR THE APPLE PIE SOUFFLÉ

  • ¾ ounce (1½ tablespoons) unsalted butter, cubed, plus additional for buttering the ramekins
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, plus additional for dusting the ramekins
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus additional for dusting the ramekins
  • 6 large Granny Smith or Honeycrisp apples, cored and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup egg whites (from about 6 large eggs), room temperature
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting the soufflés

MAKE THE SALTED CARAMEL

1. Combine the sugar, corn syrup and ¼ cup of water in a very clean saucepot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to cook the caramel until it becomes a medium amber color (or the color of an Irish set­ter)—watch carefully and do not let the caramel burn. While the caramel cooks, do not stir it with a spoon, but gently swirl the caramel around the pot. Use a clean, moist pastry brush to remove any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pot. As soon as the caramel is ready, remove it from the heat and gently whisk in the heavy cream and butter. Be careful: the caramel will bubble and sputter, so stand back. Whisk in the salt. Taste and add more salt if you like. Transfer the caramel to a bowl; you will have about 2 cups salted caramel. Refrigerate the sauce until needed. The sauce will keep, covered, for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

PREPARE THE APPLE PIE SOUFFLÉ

2. Preheat the oven to 350ºF; position the rack in the mid­dle. Generously butter 4 to 6 (6-ounce) ramekins and dust the inside of the ramekins with sugar and cinna­mon. Set the ramekins aside.

3. Toss the apples with the butter, 1 cup of the sugar, the cinnamon, ginger and cloves and transfer the mixture to an ovenproof roasting pan. Bake the apples for about 30 minutes or until they are soft and falling apart.

4. Transfer the cooked apples, without their cooking liq­uid, to a blender and puree until they are completely smooth; the texture should be smoother and finer than regular applesauce. (At the restaurant, we use a Vitamix to get our apple puree to the right consistency, but at home you can use a regular blender and then strain your puree through a fine-mesh strainer or a chinois to get any remaining lumps out.) Transfer the apple puree to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. You should have about 4 cups apple puree.

5. Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on medium speed and slowly add the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and cream of tartar. Continue beat­ing until the egg whites become foamy. Raise the mixer speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form (when the whisk is lifted from the mixture, there should be a standing peak in the area where it was lifted).

6. Measure 3 cups of the apple puree into a separate bowl, and use a rubber spatula to gently fold in 1½ cups of the whipped egg whites.

7. Fill the ramekins to the top with the batter, and smooth out the tops with an offset spatula. Place a kitchen towel on the counter and gently tap the ramekins on the towel to release any trapped air bubbles. Transfer the ramekins to a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes or until the soufflés have risen and are firm when lightly tapped. While the soufflés bake, do not open the door to the oven.

8. While the soufflés bake, gently reheat the Salted Caramel in a small saucepan over low heat until warm and easily pourable.

9. Remove the soufflés and sprinkle them with con­fectioners’ sugar. Poke a small hole in the middle of each soufflé and drizzle warmed Salted Caramel into it. Serve the soufflés immediately, with the remaining salted caramel sauce on the side.

Excerpted from Marc Forgione: Recipes and Stories from the Acclaimed Chef and Restaurant © 2014 by Marc Forgione. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. All photographs © Evan Sung. Read our review of this book.

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