In the 1950s, the dessert was served as the pièce de résistance in fancy restaurants such as Manhattan's La Caravelle. Classically, the soufflé was surrounded with fresh strawberries, though there were exceptions. The Whitehall Club in Chicago doused it with zabaglione sauce (I've adapted their sauce recipe from The Vincent Price Cookbook.) Michel Roux's delicious variation contains honey and crushed macaroons in addition to the traditional candied fruit. Roux bakes his soufflés in individual ramekins and serves them topped with honey ice cream. Unadorned is also fine, although a dollop of whipped cream or half-melted vanilla ice cream is always welcome.
The Whitehall Club used a mixture of sherry and Grand Marnier, which enhanced the flavors of the dried fruits. You can substitute the liquor used in the soufflé.
Whitehall Club Zabaglione Sauce:
1. Macerate the candied fruit in the liquor for at least 1 hour and up to several weeks.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter and sugar a 6-cup soufflé dish or charlotte mold.
3. In a small saucepan, heat 2/3 cup milk with the granulated sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. In a small bowl, mix the flour with the remaining 1/4 cup milk. Whisk the flour paste into the hot milk and bring to a boil, stirring until the mixture thickens. Lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes, continuing to stir. Remove from the heat, then whisk in the 4 egg yolks, one at a time, and dot the top with butter pieces to prevent a skin from forming. When cool, stir in the fruit/liquor mixture and then the vanilla. (Covered, this soufflé base can be stored for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Heat to lukewarm before continuing, then stir to evenly distribute the fruit.)
4. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the 6 egg whites together with the salt and the cream of tartar until stiff but not dry. Lighten the soufflé base with 1/4 of the beaten whites and then fold the rest of the whites into the lightened base until just combined. Spoon into the prepared mold and bake in the middle of the oven for about 18 minutes or until the soufflé is well risen and golden. The center of the soufflé should remain a bit creamy (this is a matter of personal preference so cook longer if you like).
5. Sift confectioners' sugar over the top and serve the soufflé immediately, by itself or garnished with fresh berries and Whitehall Club Zabaglione Sauce, crème anglaise, whipped cream, or softened vanilla ice cream.
For the sauce:
1. Place the first 5 ingredients in the top of a double boiler or in a medium-sized stainless steel bowl. Whisk vigorously until pale yellow.
2. Set over barely simmering water and cook the mixture, whisking constantly using a wire whisk, a hand-held electric mixer, or a rotary beater, until it is very thick, 6 to 10 minutes. Bring almost to a boil but do not actually boil or the mixture will curdle.
3. Remove from the heat and transfer to a clean bowl to cool.
4. When completely cool, fold in the whipped cream and the liquor of your choice.
From Lost Desserts: Delicious Indulgences of the Past: Recipes from Legendary Restaurants and Famous Chefs by Gail Monaghan (Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 2007). Foreward by George Lang. Copyright © 2007 by Gail Monaghan. Photographs copyright © 2007 by Eric Boman. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the publisher.
It takes 1 gallon of water to grow a single almond, according to Tom Philpott, food and agriculture correspondent for Mother Jones and author of "California Goes Nuts." Eighty percent of the world's almonds are grown in California, which is experiencing a severe drought.