Warm Chartreuse Souffle with Chocolate Sauce
I’ve had a long love affair with Chartreuse liqueur, even before I visited the monastery back in the 1990’s. We were led through a somewhat terrifying display of hooded monks (not real ones, fortunately, but long-face replicas), the kind you see in historical or agricultural museums in France that are meant to depict a historical representation of something, even drying prunes – likely for educational purposes, but always gives me a shiver. I guess I’m a lot more sensitive than the kids being led through the museums because those figures still haunt my dreams, decades later.
At the distillery, we saw how Chartreuse was made from 100+ herbs, one of them I swear was a leaf that was recently legalized in California, a smell I knew well at the time. Then we were led to a tasting, and finally, the best part – the shop! My favorite treats were the chocolates filled with liquid Chartreuse, which you need to eat all in one go. Otherwise, you’ll find the liquid Chartreuse drenching the front of your shirt. If you’re in Paris, they sell versions at Jean-Charles Rochoux and Fouquet, and they’re well worth trying.
Chartreuse has a sharp herbal flavor that I find pair particularly well with dark chocolate. It’s made in the French alps, a region featured in Hungry for France, one of my favorite books about France, from one of my favorite authors (and sometimes dining companion), Alexander Lobrano.
Alec, as he’s known, was the Paris correspondent for Gourmet magazine for nearly a decade and now travels around France, and beyond, writing stories that focus on the local cuisine and culture for magazines, newspapers, and in his books.
His latest, Hungry for France, is a tour de force around the country, a place he knows well – from Normandy with its spectacular, gooey cheeses, to the Côte d’Azur, dining on ratatouille and fish pulled from the Mediterranean that morning. The book is filled with stories that anyone who loves France, and French cuisine, will savor, like his previous book, Hungry for Paris, a guidebook to Paris dining, which I found myself reading from cover-to-cover not just for the addresses, but for the stories that accompany them.
The one recipe in his book that I honed in on, toutes de suite, was the Hot Chartreuse Soufflé. I’d been meaning to add a few Chartreuse recipes to the site, and kept my bar stocked with a bottle at all times for when that happened. Then, it never happened. And somehow, the bottle of herbal green liqueur got drained from my stock. However when I saw these soufflés in his book, I grabbed my bottle of Izarra, a green Basque liqueur that I had on hand, which is somewhat similar to Chartreuse. (Although don’t tell the proud Basque people that I said that!) It’s got a lovely green color and has similar characteristics to Chartreuse, with the added bonus that I had a bottle within arm’s reach.
I am very fond of Chartreuse (and Izarra) with chocolate and had some sauce left from a recent batch of S’mores Ice Cream that I’d churned up. I’ve sometimes folded a handful of bittersweet chocolate chunks into soufflés like this, which melt a little, which give hits of dark chocolate here and there. But in this case, I liked the luscious pool of chocolate that sunk a bit to the bottom. Swirled with the warm herbal soufflé, spooned up just out of the oven, it was a double-dose of dessert deliciousness.