The mere mention of the word ‘soufflé’ sees many a cook shudder in terror. Impossibly light, frustratingly fragile, and notoriously difficult to perfect the soufflé is often seen as the pinnacle of culinary achievement. But here’s the true secret: it’s not actually that difficult. And here’s another secret: you can achieve a perfect soufflé using an air fryer. This recipe is for a classic chocolate souffle - or rather two of them, as you can comfortably fit two ramekin dishes in the pan of an air fryer. Topped with vanilla ice-cream or a dark chocolate sorbet, these soufflés are guaranteed to bring the wow factor to your dining room table.
Pre-heat the air fryer to 330°F (165°C).
Brush the insides of the ramekin dishes with a little melted butter - using upward brush strokes around the edges helps to encourage a good rise of the soufflé. Divide the cocoa powder between the ramekins and rotate them to coat the butter with cocoa. Upturn the ramekins and tap gently to remove excess cocoa powder.
Place the chocolate and butter in a clean bowl and melt them gently over a pan of hot water.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks vigorously. Add the sugar and the vanilla extract and beat again. The mixture should be pale and voluminous.
Drizzle the chocolate and butter mixture into the egg yolks, mixing well. Gently stir in the flour, folding repeatedly to remove any lumps.
In a very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peak stage (the point at which the whites can almost stand up on the end of your whisk). Fold the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture in three stages, ensuring that each addition has been incorporated before adding the next. The idea is to thoroughly incorporate the egg whites without over-mixing the batter, as this would knock out the all-important air.
Divide the soufflé mixture between the two ramekins, filling them to ¼-inch from the top. Run your thumb around the lip of each ramekin to create a small circular channel around the soufflé mixture - again, this encourages a good even rise.
Carefully place the ramekins in the air fryer pan and bake for 14 minutes - DO NOT OPEN THE FRYER AT ANY TIME OR THE SOUFFLÉS WILL FALL!
Once baked, carefully remove the risen soufflés and serve immediately.