Lemon Souffle Pudding

I came across this recipe at Joy's blog recently and was excited about it because:
a. it looked delicious
b. it's made with ingredients I tend to have on hand
c. it can be made in cute little individual ramikins or in one 9-inch pan
d. it's kinda like two desserts in one because you get a souffle/cake layer and a lemon custard layer

We're having a guest over for dessert tonight at the house, so it seems like the perfect day to try this little honey. Just click the title to link to the original recipe.

Lemon Souffle Pudding

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

3 large eggs, separated

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoon lemon zest

1/3 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup whole milk

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter six – 1 cup ramekins. I used one buttered 8-inch cake pan (a 9-inch glass pie pan works too).

Set aside 2 tablespoons of the sugar to use when whipping the egg whites. Place the remaining sugar in a medium sized bowl. Add the lemon zest to the sugar. With the back of a spoon, or spatula, grind the lemon zest into the sugar, creating a fragrant, slightly yellow tinged sugar. Working the zest into the sugar will release lots of the essential oils in the zest, creating a super lemony batter. Then, in the bowl of your electric mixer or with a hand mixer, cream the lemony sugar and butter. Add the three egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, gradually pour in the lemon juice and milk. Set aside while you beat the egg whites.

In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, in three additions, mixing only until incorporated.

Carefully pour (or use a ladle) the batter into the prepared ramekins. (The batter does not rise much during baking so you can fill the ramekins almost to the rim.) I poured the entire mixture into the 8-inch cake pan. Place the ramekins in a larger baking pan (or any size pan that will fit the ramekins and leave about 1 inch (2.54 cm) around the edges). Or place the 9-inch baking dish in a larger basting pan and set on your counter

Boil a tea pot of water to create a water bath. (A water bath is used to provide temperature protection for the eggs.) Place the basting pan with the souffle inside into the oven, carefully pulling the oven rack out a bit. Carefully pour in enough hot water so that the water is halfway up the sides of the ramekins or pie dish, and carefully slide the rack back into the oven.

Bake for about 40 – 45 minutes or until the sponge cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake portion comes out clean. Be careful not to insert the toothpick into the lemon sauce at the bottom of the ramekins. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and cool slightly before serving.

This dessert can be served warm or at room temperature. Dust the tops of the puddings with confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar and dress with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh fruit (optional).

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