The biggest mistakes everyone makes when baking a soufflé - Exclusive

Even if you're an avid baker, you're probably a little afraid of the soufflé. Blame it on Audrey Hepburn, who famously disappointed her French pastry chef instructor with her sad attempt at this egg-based delicacy in the classic flick, Sabrina. Too high, too low, too heavy... there's no limit to the number of ways we can screw up this treat. But a perfect soufflé is something anyone can make, according to Michelin award winner Daniel Kleinhandler, who served as executive pastry chef at Bar Boulud, Aureole, db Bistro Moderne, Picholine, The Clocktower, and Boulud Sud, before opening his own own dessert company, sugar, butter, chocolate, earlier this year. The key, though, is avoiding certain missteps that most of us will make without expert instruction.

That's why Kleinhandler is teaching a virtual cooking class through CocuSocial on September 13 at 2 p.m. EST, where novice bakers can get live instruction on how to create his dark chocolate soufflé and no-churn vanilla ice cream recipe from the comfort of their own kitchens. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Kleinhandler explained that he chose this dish to teach because he wanted to help the "Sabrinas" of the world bake desserts they'll be proud of. "Chocolate soufflé is like the fanciest, French-est, scariest sounding dish you can do," he said. "In reality, it's five ingredients, three techniques." So why do so many of us end up with soufflés that fall flat?

The wrong egg technique will ruin your soufflé, according to Chef Daniel Kleinhandler

If your soufflé is not what you thought it would be cracked up to be, take a close look at how you're handling the eggs, Kleinhandler said. "If you don't know what you're doing and you don't know how to take your time and do the techniques properly, [soufflés] are hard," he said. Most of these techniques involve the egg, Kleinhandler added. "If you don't stabilize the egg whites enough, they can fall," he explained. "If you don't know how far to bake it and you get at the point where it's not set yet, that can fall." 

The best way to perfect your soufflé is understanding how to handle eggs and egg whites, Kleinhandler advised. But once you have that knowledge, other complex baking techniques will be within reach. In fact, while he's teaching his soufflé class, Kleinhandler may offer tips on making another sophisticated egg-based dessert, meringue. "It's a little like, there's lots of points where I can stop and go, 'Hey, let's learn this thing because this is not just soufflé, this is baking.' This is like 'Pastry 2.0'... where you can learn an extractable technique," he explained.

Fear of failure is ruining your soufflés

If all of this talk of falling soufflés is making you anxious, it might be your self-talk that's getting in the way of your success, Kleindandler pointed out. "The most difficult dessert is the dessert they're scared to make," he emphasized. "If you walk into a kitchen-like environment... and you are scared to do it, you're going to make mistakes. If the dish, especially a soufflé... [has] a procedure, if you act timid towards them, you will fail." In actuality, though, Kleinhandler said, "I think if you've been in the kitchen and cooked yourself, more than just toast," you can figure out how to make a soufflé. "It's not something that you need five years of cooking or you need to be the best cook in your family," he added.

The key is to be confident, but not cocky, Kleinhandler explained. "I think it's more of the European things, isn't it, that have the fun French names? They're scary and people go into them half-a**ed, and that's when they fail," he said. So you do need to pay attention to the task at hand, according to Kleindandler, but as long as you follow the instructions, indeed your soufflé will — pardon the pun – rise to the occasion.

Be sure to reserve your spot in Chef Kleinhandler's virtual cooking class on CocuSocial, which will be taught on September 13th.