Geoffrey Zakarian's Valentine's Day Souffle

The Next Iron Chef, Season 4, Press Gallery Shoot, Geoffrey Zakarian-Chef/Rival, As seen on Food Network, Next Iron Chef season 4

Photo by: Kevin Lynch ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Kevin Lynch, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Instead of fighting the crowds of couples at hot spot restaurants on Valentine's Day, treat your sweetie to an extra-special dinner and dessert at home on Thursday. Food Network's one-stop Valentine's Day destination has everything you need to plan a savory meal for two, while Chopped judge and Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian has the ultimate confection for an unforgettable supper — a showstopping dessert that's by far more impressive looking than it is difficult to prepare, even for the most novice bakers among us.

FN Dish caught up with Geoffrey during a live cooking demonstration at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J., and he shared his tried-and-true Flourless Raspberry Souffle recipe from his cookbook, Town/Country: 150 Recipes for Life Around the Table. He's the first to admit that most people are "freaked out by souffles," but he promises that there's no reason to be. A master of souffles himself, Geoffrey first began making them in his earliest days as a chef at New York City's Le Cirque restaurant. "That was my first job in the kitchen," he told us. "I was a souffle chef." There he'd prepare nearly 150 souffles every day, and he quickly picked up "all the tricks of the trade."

Whether you've dabbled in from-scratch souffles before or are new to making them, Geoffrey explains that there are a few must-know secrets to pulling off this dessert successfully. Check out his top-five tips for baking up light, fluffy souffles every time, then read on to find his can-do recipe.

1. Let eggs come to room temperature before whipping them.

2. Many recipes call for cream of tartar, but if you don't have any on hand, salt is an acceptable substitute.

3. Beat egg whites thoroughly until stiff, shiny peaks form.

4. Coat the inside of the baking dish with a layer of butter to prevent sticking.

5. Bake the souffle on the lowest shelf in the oven so that it has room to rise.

Flourless Raspberry Souffle
Serves 6
For the Raspberry Puree
4 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
For the Souffles
Butter, for greasing the souffle dishes
1 cup sugar
18 large egg whites
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

Set aside 36 of the raspberries for garnish. Place the remaining raspberries, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, and the lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until the fruit is very soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the raspberries from the heat and allow them to cool to room temperature. Puree the berries in a blender, stirring, then transfer them to a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare six 8-ounce ramekins (or 1 1/2-cup souffle dishes) by generously buttering them on the inside and then coating the butter lining with 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip the whites on low speed until they form soft peaks, then gradually begin adding the remaining sugar. Continue whipping until the egg whites form stiff, glossy peaks. Remove the egg whites from the mixer and gradually fold in 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of raspberry puree in thirds, taking care not to overfold. (If you like an airy, lighter-flavored souffle, add the lesser amount of puree; if you prefer a more intense fruit flavor, add the greater amount.) Reserve any remaining puree. Using a pastry bag with the large plain tip, pipe the souffle mixture into the ramekins, swirling it so each souffle has a peak like a soft ice cream cone. (Alternatively, just spoon the mixture into the ramekins, not quite filling them to the top.) Stud the peaks of the souffles with the reserved raspberries. Place the souffles in the oven immediately and bake until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes. The center of the souffle should still be soft. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve immediately, garnished with any leftover raspberry puree.

Recipe courtesy Geoffrey Zakarian with David Gibbons, Town/Country: 150 Recipes for Life Around the Table

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