Recipe Sleuth: Adour’s Hazelnut Soufflé

Photograph by Chris Leaman

At Adour, celebrity chef Alain Ducasse’s outpost in the St. Regis hotel, the cuisine is “designed with wine in mind.” That includes the desserts, overseen by pastry chef Fabrice Bendano. His best-selling hazelnut soufflé, served with a refreshing scoop of orange-ginger sorbet, pairs especially well with dessert wines.

The recipe calls for hazelnut praline and feuilletine—ingredients that can be purchased at Dean & DeLuca in Georgetown and many other specialty food stores. But making a successful soufflé often comes down to technique: “It’s all about timing and temperature,” says Bendano. “Every oven is different.” It’s also about precision, which is why you’ll need a scale—Bendano measures ingredients by weight.

He recommends preheating the oven to the required temperature and baking one soufflé as a test run. Then you can gauge exactly how much time it needs in the oven. The end result is worth the time and patience: In January’s 100 Very Best Restaurants issue, our dining critics named it one of the top 25 desserts in Washington.

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Hazelnut Soufflé With Praline Feuillete, Orange-Ginger Sorbet, and Orange Granité
Makes 12 servings.
Make the praline feuillete:
5 ounces white chocolate
21 ounces hazelnut praline (available at Dean & DeLuca)
11 ounces feuilletine
Place a pot of water on the stove on medium heat. In a heatproof bowl that fits over the pot, melt the white chocolate. In a large bowl, mix together the praline and feuilletine. Add the white chocolate, mixing well. On parchment paper, spread the praline feuillete to 1⁄8 inch thick. After spreading, freeze the praline feuillete. Once it has frozen, use a circular pastry cutter a bit smaller than your soufflé ramekin to cut the frozen mixture into discs. Keep cold until ready to use.
Make the orange-ginger sorbet:
4 ounces water
9 ounces sugar
35 ounces orange juice
1 ounce ginger juice (peel, cut, and blend the ginger in a food processor. Strain with a fine-mesh sieve, reserving the juice)

In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine the water and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
Add the orange juice and ginger juice. Spin the mixture in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Let the sorbet firm up in the freezer for a couple of hours before serving.
Make the orange granité:
16 ounces orange juice
2 ounces sugar
Zest from 1 orange
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Pour the liquid into a container and freeze. Once it has frozen, use a fork to scrape it into shavings. Keep in the freezer until ready to use.

Make the pastry cream:
21 ounces milk
5 ounces egg yolks
1 ounce sugar
2 ounces cornstarch
4 ounces milk chocolate
10 ounces hazelnut praline
Heat the milk in a large pot set over medium heat. While the milk is warming on the stove, add the egg yolks to a large bowl. Whisk the sugar into the yolks, and then the cornstarch. When the milk is hot but not boiling, pour half of it into the yolks and whisk vigorously. Then pour the yolk mixture back into the pot with the rest of the milk. Continue to whisk the mixture until it reaches a creamy consistency. Place the milk chocolate and hazelnut praline into a large bowl. While the pastry cream is still warm, combine it with the chocolate-hazelnut mixture. Fold the pastry cream into the chocolate-hazelnut mixture until fully incorporated.

Make the meringue:

9 ounces egg whites
2 ounces sugar
13 ounces pastry cream
Butter (to coat the ramekins)
Sugar (to coat the ramekins)

Grease 12 ramekins (3¾ inches in diameter and 2½ inches in height) with butter and coat with sugar. Shake out the excess sugar by turning the ramekins upside down.
In a stand mixer, whip the egg whites until they’re just past soft peaks. Incorporate the sugar and whisk for approximately 30 seconds. Take 1⁄5 of the pastry cream and fold it into the meringue. Fold in the remaining pastry cream. Fill each ramekin halfway with soufflé batter. Place a feuillette on top of the batter, then continue filling the ramekin with batter. The soufflé batter will hold for up to 1 hour in the refrigerator.
To assemble the soufflé:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Bake the soufflés for 15 minutes. To serve, spoon some of the granité onto a dessert plate. Scoop the orange-ginger sorbet and place on top, in the middle of the granité. Set a soufflé next to the sorbet and granité.

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