The chocolate soufflé is considered by many home cooks to be too complicated to make. While the classic French dessert consists of very few ingredients, its light, airy texture and lofted height relies solely on beating the egg whites to stiff peaks. Get it wrong and you’ve got yourself a sad, deflated dish.
For novices, Marica in Rockridge offers its signature chocolate soufflé as a kit to make at home. It’s not only very simple to make, but a serious bang for your buck. The family-run restaurant, known for its New American and seafood dishes, has pre-assembled everything you need to make this decadent and elegant showstopper, including a gorgeous vanilla crème anglaise to finish your bake.
What: Chocolate soufflé kit with crème anglaise
Where: Marica, 5301 College Ave. (near Broadway), Oakland
Hours: 4-8:45 p.m., Wednesday through Monday. (Closed by 8:30 p.m., Saturday)
Ordering and pickup: Marica requests that you refrain from using delivery apps, like Caviar, because these services take anywhere between 20%-40% from the restaurant for every order. Instead, support this POC- and family-owned business by placing your order directly with the eatery over the phone. They’re super appreciative of direct orders and will make a point in telling you so.
While finding a parking spot on College Avenue isn’t so easy, Marica’s pickup system is. At a table set up at the front of the restaurant, a staffer will greet you and confirm your order. (When I visited, one of the owners came out of the kitchen to thank me, again, for supporting a local business with my order.)
Packaging and presentation: Neatly compiled in a recyclable takeout box, the kit comes with a premixed chocolate soufflé base (mousse-like in appearance and texture) ready to go in an oven-safe container that’s covered in plastic wrap. Additionally, Marica provides small containers of crème anglaise and confectioners sugar (aka powdered sugar). Keep everything refrigerated until you are ready to bake.
Preparation: Simply unwrap the soufflé batter and stick it in the preheated oven (truly back-breaking work here folks). Set a timer for 12 minutes and find something to do — drink a glass of wine, perhaps — while you wait. When your timer is up, take a peek in the oven to see if the soufflé has puffed up enough — its sides should rise straight up. (Note: Every oven is a little different, so cooking time can vary. I had to leave my soufflé in the oven for a few extra minutes, checking roughly every minute or so on its progress.)
The most challenging part of this kit comes next. Once out of the oven, snap a pic in case that gorgeous puff falls before you can poke a hole in the top and pour in the crème anglaise. Alternately, if you have some vanilla ice cream on hand, that makes a nice topper as well. Consume as is or make it rain confectionery goodness with a few taps on a sieve filled with the included powdered sugar.
Taste: Light and lovely in texture with a nice chocolate note, this soufflé is not cloyingly sweet or overly rich. Personally, I prefer a heavier dose of chocolate but the crème anglaise filling is a nice addition, offering a beautiful creamy, custardy contrast to the eggy fluff of the chocolate base. All in all, this kit is a fun and easy dessert to add to your weekend repertoire or perhaps to whip out at dinner parties and gatherings with your family or quarantine pod.