Chestnut Soufflé with Lavender-Chocolate Sauce
October, 2005

Serves 8–10 / A touch of lavender in the rich chocolate sauce lends a pleasant subtlety to this ethereal soufflé. Culinary lavender can be found in many natural foods stores, often in the herb or bulk section, and is a natural stress-reliever. Look for bottled sweetened chestnut purée in well-stocked grocery stores.

Lavender-Chocolate Sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons culinary lavender, or
2 tablespoons brewed Darjeeling tea
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Soufflé
Canola oil or cooking spray
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur (such as Cointreau)
1 cup sweetened chestnut purée
6 egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Powdered sugar, for garnish
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish

1. To make the sauce, combine honey and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in lavender (or tea). Let sit for 30 minutes. Strain and discard lavender. In a food processor, grind bittersweet and unsweetened chocolates together. Add canola oil through the feed tube with the machine still running, then slowly pour in warm honey mixture. Add vanilla extract and process another 15 seconds. Set sauce aside until serving time.
2. To make the soufflé, preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 2-quart straight-sided casserole or soufflé dish with canola oil or cooking spray. Coat dish sides with 2 teaspoons sugar. In a small saucepan, heat liqueur over low heat and stir in chestnut purée, blending well. Remove from heat.
3. Beat egg whites with salt and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Slowly add 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time. Add
baking powder. Beat until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 cup egg white mixture into chestnut purée mixture. Gently fold chestnut purée mixture into remaining whites.
4. Pour mixture into prepared dish; smooth the top and run a finger around inside edge before placing in oven. Bake until puffed and golden, 15–20 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a knife blade; if it comes out dry, the soufflé is ready.
5. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, mint leaves, and lavender-chocolate sauce on the side. (Sauce should be just warm to the touch.)

PER SERVING (with 2 tablespoons sauce): 248 cal, 30% fat cal, 8g fat, 3g sat fat, 0mg chol, 5g protein, 38g carb, 1g fiber, 133mg sodium