- 250ml (9fl oz) milk
- ½ onion, sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cloves
- 6 black peppercorns
- 50g (2oz) unsalted butter
- 50g (2oz) plain flour
- 1tsp English mustard powder
- 150g (5oz) Cheddar, Gruyère or French Comté, or a mixture, grated
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 300ml (½pt) double cream
- 2tbsp Parmesan, finely grated
- chopped chives
- you will need
- 6 metal pudding basins or ramekins, well buttered
Place the milk, onion, bay leaf, cloves and peppercorns in a saucepan. Bring just up to the boil, remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 1 hour. Strain the milk and discard the flavourings.
Heat the oven to 180C, 160C fan, 350F, gas 4. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and mustard powder and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk, stirring continuously until it’s all incorporated. Cook the mixture for a couple of minutes – it will be very thick at this stage. Reserve 25g (1oz) of the grated Cheddar, add the remainder to the sauce and stir until melted. Add the egg yolks and plenty of seasoning, and stir well.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry, and fold a large spoonful into the cheese mixture to loosen it. Fold in the rest then divide equally between the pudding basins. Place the soufflés in a roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, until well risen and golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the basins. They can be covered and chilled overnight in the fridge if you want.
To serve, heat the oven to 220C, 200C fan, 425F, gas 7. Run a knife around the insides of the soufflés and turn out. Place in a large gratin dish. Season the double cream with salt and pepper and pour over the soufflés. Top each one with a little of the reserved Cheddar and sprinkle over the Parmesan. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes until golden brown and puffed. Serve on warmed plates and scatter over the chopped chives.
If you have any hard cheese left over, you can freeze it ready for use in cooking later on. Just grate it, bag it up into usable portions, then pop it in the freezer.