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Anthony O'SHAUGHNESSY

Badass Geordie cook eating his way around the world. 

Candy Floss Soufflé (Soufflé au Barbapapa)

Candy Floss Soufflé (Soufflé au Barbapapa)

It's a funny story how the idea for this recipe came about. I was on holiday in France last year and I was shopping for some dried herbs to bring back home. I went into this one shop that had stacks of gigantic glass jars filled with different kinds of flavoured sugar: vanilla sugar, cinnamon sugar, thyme sugar - all sorts of mixtures. I came across this one blend, which was bright pink, and was labelled 'Sucre a la Barbapapa'. 

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I hadn't the slightest idea what it was. I googled it and could only find a French children's TV cartoon character of the same name that looked like Mr Blobby. I took a whiff and it has a VERY familiar which I couldn't put my finger on. I messaged one of my French friends who lives in Lyon who solved the mystery for me - it was candy floss! Candy floss sugar, anyways.

The card suggests in French that you can use candy floss sugar on yoghurts and fruit salads. I would never have thought. My mind got to work and I started to think of fun ways to use the stuff.  When I got home from France I bought a bag of Gold Medal Brand Flossugar - Silly Nilly flavour, the classic pink candy floss. Apparently candy floss is primarily vanilla flavoured, with some extra synthetic flavourings ranging from raspberry to cherry. The aroma is so distinct it's instantly recognisable as 'candy floss', even without a fluffy mound of spun sugar on a stick.

My first and favourite experiment with candy floss sugar was a soufflé. It was an instant success. I made it a second time with some alteration, and I was very happy with the result. Don't be intimidated by a soufflé, they're very simple to make. If you've made a fresh custard before, you're more than capable of making a soufflé! People worry about a soufflé collapsing, as if it's not supposed to happen - a soufflé ALWAYS collapses. A soufflé will rise proudly in the oven, and once it's taken out it will collapse within 5-10 minutes as standard, which is why serving soufflé in a restaurant is a time-critical nightmare. At home, you can enjoy it's lightness straight from the oven without delay.  This is a classic soufflé formula, using a sort of custard (creme patissiere) lightened with beaten egg whites, which expand in the oven, giving you the characteristic lift. I have adapted this recipe for candy floss sugar, producing a softly pink, bouncy soufflé which is inflated with that nostalgic, funfair aroma. I recommend serving it for old time's sake, in the name of fun, not just on the fact that it tastes outstanding!

CANDY FLOSS SOUFFLÉ

  • 250ml full-fat Milk
  • 4 Eggs
  • 120g Pink Candy Floss Sugar (extra for dusting & sprinkling)
  • 25g Plain Flour
  1. Preheat an oven to 190C. Take your 4 eggs and separate the eggs and yolks, placing the yolks into one mixing bowl and the whites into another mixing bowl. Add the 25g of plain flour and the 60g (half of the full 120g amount) of Candy Floss Sugar to the egg yolks and whisk until smooth. The candy floss sugar will start to leak dye, so don't be alarmed if the mixture is a funny colour at this point!
  2.  In a small saucepan, add the 250ml of milk and slowly bring up to a boil. Once it begins to boil, turn off the heat and gently trickle the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to make sure the egg yolks don't sit and scramble under the heat of the milk. Keep the mixture stirring while you gradually add all of the hot milk. 
  3. Pour the egg yolk mixture, which should now dyed pink by the Candy Floss sugar, back into the saucepan you used to heat the milk. This time, set the heat on medium - not high - and stir gently and constantly as the heat thickens the mixture, making sure to scrape around the bottom and sides of the pan where the mixture can sometimes catch and scramble.  When the mixture feels like it's thickening like yoghurt, remove from the heat and stir quickly, this will help cool the mixture so it doesn't continue to cook and scramble. The whole process normally takes 7-10 minutes. Once thickened, pour into the mixing bowl the eggs yolk mixture was in and leave to cool off the heat.
  4. While the custard base is cooling, take 4 ramekins and grease them generously with butter. Take some extra candy floss sugar, or caster sugar, and sprinkle it up the sides until lightly coated. This provides somewhat of a 'climbing wall' for the soufflé, helping it to climb out of the ramekin and rise, and also lets the dessert 'grip' the sides of the ramekin so it doesn't sink *too* much out of the oven.
  5. Once the custard base is cool to touch, take a clean whisk and beat the 5 egg whites until fluffy peaks are formed. At this stage, sprinkle in the other 60g of Candy Floss sugar, and beak until stiff peaks are formed.
  6. Take a scoop - about one third - of the egg whites and mix roughly into the custard base. This lightens the custard and makes it easier to fold in the rest of the egg whites. Using a metal spoon - or something stiff and rigid - fold in the rest of the egg whites, making sure not to squash them and deflate them. It takes a few minutes, but be patient. It helps to mix in an 8-figure, cutting across the mixture with the spoon. Mix until there are no blatant lumps of egg white visible in the mixture.
  7. Pour the mixture into the ramekins, trying to fill as much to the rim as you can. Using your finger and thumb pinched together, wipe around the rim of the ramekin, leaving a little groove in the mixture, this will help the soufflé to rise evenly all the way around the sides. Place in the oven on a tray and bake for 20 minutes at 190C.
  8. Once out of the oven, serve with with some ice cream, preferably vanilla or some good quality strawberry ice cream. Don't worry if it collapses, take your sweet time and enjoy it!
Not everybody has an actual candy floss machine knocking about the house, so I’m not going to suggest you make some candy floss to sit in top of your soufflés! What I really recommend though, if you own a little kitchen blowtorch, is topping the finished soufflé with a sprinkling of candy floss sugar and briefly torching it with a high flame. This produces that characteristic burnt sugar aroma that is candy floss. It’s an extra touch that takes it to a higher echelon!
— ANTHONY'S SHOCK TIP
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