Minneolas Bring Back Old-Fashioned Frozen Soufflé
Winter citrus is as natural as can be, even though it seems like the fruit ought to be showing up in summer. Mingled among the honey tangerines, Satsuma mandarins and bags of trademarked Cuties is an unusual cross, the minneola. It’s a combination of the mandarin tangerine and a grapefruit.
The skin of the minneola is dark orange and nubby. Not perfectly round, its stem end tapers into a shape resembling a nipple. Minneola juice is darker than orange or tangerine juice. Its taste is rich but not very acidic.
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I love using minneola juice in lots of things, such as for deglazing liquid for braised pork chops or chicken. My favorite recipe is an old-fashioned frozen soufflé. The recipe calls for several specialized cooking techniques, including making custard, using gelatin, and folding egg snows and whipped cream together.
For perfect custard bases, use a double boiler, preferably one that is enamel-coated and heavy enough to provide some protection to yolk-based mixtures. To avoid curdling, do not overheat custards. Curdling is an irreversible condition in which yolks are heated beyond their coagulation point.
Be sure to keep a strainer on hand. If by chance lumps form, strain them immediately. Do not return the custard to the heat.
Overbeaten egg whites are the downfall of many a soufflé. In cold soufflés, properly beaten whites act as a binder, while hot soufflés would not rise without them. Eggs separate more easily when they’re cold, but for the most volume, beat whites after they’ve come to room temperature. Wait until some foaming has set in before beginning to add sugar in a trickle.
Cold soufflés like this one usually contain whipped cream. This, too, should not be overbeaten. Nor, for that matter, should whipped cream be over-folded into a soufflé base. If, after folding for some time, tiny lumps of white still remain, let them show. And instead of using a rubber spatula for folding, try a wooden spatula. It’s got drag that pulls the mixture along, making it likely you’ll need fewer strokes.
Best of all, a cold soufflé is a make-ahead dish. Store in the freezer, then withdraw at the end of a dinner party, ready to go. Decorate with optional whipped cream flowers and candied pieces of minneola peel, remove the collar and dessert is served.
Frozen Minneola Soufflé
2 tablespoons gelatin
¼ cup water
About 7 minneolas
1 tablespoon finely minced minneola zest
1½ cups strained, fresh-squeezed minneola (or tangerine) juice
6 eggs, separated (you will need 6 yolks and 4 egg whites)
¾ cup sugar
⅔ cup additional sugar, divided
1¼ cups heavy cream
Whipped cream for garnish (optional)
Candied minneola peel for garnish (recipe below)
1. In a small bowl, stir the gelatin in the water. Set aside.
2. Take zest off about three minneolas using a 5-hole zester, or by scraping minneolas on the finest side of a box grater, or use a planer, until you have 1 tablespoon. Juice enough minneolas, straining the juice, until you have 1½ cups juice. Set zest and juice aside.
3. To make the minneola base, separate the yolks, reserving 4 egg whites. Beat the yolks and the ¾ cup sugar on high speed until pale yellow and thick, about 2 minutes. Transfer the yolks to the top of a double-boiler. Add softened gelatin, stirring until combined. Cook over simmering water until hot and thick, about 20 minutes.
4. With a rubber spatula, scrape this custard into a large bowl. Whisk in the zest and minneola juice, combining thoroughly. Chill, uncovered, stirring two or three times, until base begins to gel, about 1 hour.
5. Meanwhile, butter a 6-cup soufflé dish. Make a collar of a folded length of wax paper or parchment paper. Butter the collar. Wrap this collar around the soufflé dish, secure with tape, then tie tightly with string. Sprinkle inside the dish and up the collar with granulated sugar.
6. Beat egg whites until foamy. Trickle in half the remaining sugar (⅓ cup) while continuing to beat whites to stiff peaks. Fold whites into gelled minneola base. Return to refrigerator.
7. Beat the cream, gradually adding the remaining ⅓ cup sugar until cream forms stiff peaks. Fold cream into soufflé base.
8. Scrape soufflé mixture into prepared soufflé dish. Freeze 4 hours or overnight. Snip string and peel off collar. Decorate with whipped cream piped from a star tip. Sprinkle with candied minneola peel.
Candied Minneola Peel
¼ cup water
½ cup sugar, plus more for dusting
1. With a sharp knife, gently scrape away white pith from peels of minneolas. Cut peels lengthwise into thin strips, then into small squares.
2. In a small pot, bring water and sugar to a boil. Stir until sugar dissolves.
3. Add peel. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Scoop pieces of sugared peel out of the pot with a small strainer to a sheet of wax paper. Roll warm peel in additional sugar for a light dusting.
You can make these a day ahead and store cooled candied peel in a small bowl covered with wax paper.
Minneola frozen soufflé. Credit: Elaine Corn