In-depth blog post #2
For this month, I decided to make chocolate souffle with my mentor. Chocolate souffle is a fancy French dessert served right out of the oven with many different toppings to enjoy with. It is considered a difficult dish to make, despite the minimal and basic ingredients it uses. I decided to start off this journey with a chocolate souffle because I’ve always wanted to make chocolate souffle, and in-depth was the perfect excuse to buy all the materials I didn’t have to make this dish. While it is quite a difficult dish to use for deciding my skill level, I thought it was a great idea due to the several techniques used in perfecting a dish such as souffle. Souffle is actually made into a savory dish, such a cheese souffle but since I am more of a fan of chocolate, I decided to make the dessert version of souffle.
I actually made this souffle once before I met with my mentor to make it because I wanted to see if I would even be able to make it with the time that we had and whether it was too difficult to start with. I wanted to have a basic understanding and level of skill that I would be able to make this dish mostly independently. However, during the first try, I did not take any pictures as I didn’t realize how it would turn out. To quickly sum up that trial, it went very successfully. I will be critiquing the taste of my first try souffle and not second. I will not be critiquing the second try souffle as it went a lot more poorly than my first. In the photo, you will see that the surface was very uneven and it didn’t have the symmetrical rise it should have. The taste was a lot worse than my first trial as well. After consulting with my mentor, we concluded that I added the egg yolks to my batter too quickly when the chocolate was still hot. This caused the eggs to curdle, resulting in a lumpy and hard-to-mix batter. I think that I forgot that I had to wait for the chocolate to cool completely before proceeding because I was trying to get everything done in an hour.
For the toppings, I added whipped cream for my first try, creating a hole in my souffle and adding in soft peak whipped cream, and the second time I just topped with powdered sugar, both of which are classic toppings for a sweet souffle, like the one I made. I also added way too much powdered sugar. I think trying to rush ruined a lot about my dish.
Here is a picture of my souffle from my second time making it. I think that the photo looks very bad which is disappointing because remember my first try souffle looking really nice.
(doesn’t allow for me to flip image)
Again, for my small critique, I’ll be critiquing the taste of my first try as the second was not great.
The piping hot, airy souffle was delicate to the touch. The souffle broke with a light scoop from a spoon and the soft texture melted in my tongue. The pairing of the slightly sweet whipped cream complemented the richness of the chocolate in the souffle and the balance created the perfect dessert to enjoy during all types of weather. The souffle was nice and sweet, and light enough for one to finish a serving with room for more. The rise of the souffle as it came out of the oven had a satisfying look adding to the cloudy texture featured in the souffle.
The French cooking technique I decided to learn this month was making French meringues. This is not the same as making meringues, however, it involves the same technique used to make the sweet treat. To make a French meringue, it is the same as a regular meringue which is just whipping eggs whites to give air to the dish and allow for desserts to rise when baking, however, sugar is added to the eggs. The sugar helps add strength to the egg whites. This technique was used when making my souffle, which is what gave it a nice rise.
Souffle originated in France and is called souffle from the word soufflér which means to puff, just like how when baking a souffle, it puffs up. The dish was made for rich people in Paris during the 1800s by Marie-Antoine Carême. Marie-Antoine was able to perfect the souffle when he began to use ovens that were heated with air rather than coal, which is what helped the souffle get the rise it is famous for.
Next month, I would like to make Croque Monsieur and hollandaise sauce. It is still quite early on for me to move on to making two big dishes a month, so that is why I chose a dish and a sauce to make, rather than two dishes.
Question to answer for post #2
- How did your mentor gain their experience/ expertise?
My mentor was able to gain his experience by getting introduced to the food industry by my dad. After that, my mentor continued to work in the food industry in many different restaurants, and while primarily being Japanese restaurants, still was able to learn many cooking techniques from learning from so many different people while working in food.
- What were those experiences like for your mentor?
When asking my mentor this question, he explained that it was sort of tough at first. Since working in a restaurant is a fast-paced environment, getting adjusted to it was quite difficult because of his lack of experience at the beginning. Despite this, he said that he still enjoyed working in food, and continuing to learn to work faster and better. He says that generally, it is an enjoyable experience other than the couple of times that are stressful especially when working in an industry like food.
- What wisdom have you gained from your mentor so far?
Patience is very important when it comes to cooking. Being able to wait and cook with the realization that cooking/baking is a long process is important to avoid making easily fixed mistakes. This was even demonstrated by the souffle we made. Going slowly is very important in making sure that I am meticulously following instructions. Cooking is a slow process, and trying to rush won’t result in a product as good as if I was to cook with more attention to detail. Especially since I am more of a beginner, worrying about being quick is unnecessary as I will learn to be more efficient as I get more experience.
- What have you learned so far, in terms of facilitation strategies, that might contribute to your own development as a mentor?
Don’t be too involved. Jumping in only when necessary is important so that the mentee can learn independence. The times that are necessary are if something is dangerous or the mentee is completely unable to proceed with instructions. Especially with cooking, since recipes have all instructions laid out and easy to follow, there’s no need to always hover over the mentee.
- Report on any progress and sub-skills learned so far. Share photos, videos and sound recording where applicable.
Photo of product above. I think the one sub-skill I learned so far was to be more patient. Just like how the wisdom shared to me explained, patience is really important when cooking and now that I know, I can hopefully avoid making simple mistakes. Since this is the first dish we made together, it’s still hard to determine how much progress I have made since I first started cooking. This new experience definitely introduced new ideas to cooking that I can apply when cooking other dishes.