RECIPE: Vanilla Basil Soufflé

More than half of the food the average Trinbagonian eats is imported. This should come as no surprise since our twin isle’s annual food import bill is approximately $6 billion. By purchasing local, you funnel money back into our community and support its growth and sustainability for future generations. Our weekly column “In Season” features a sweet and savoury recipe for one readily-available ingredient, so you can take advantage of the vibrant bounty from farmers’ markets, local farm stands, and your own yard.
Basil or Saint-Joseph's-wort is commonly used fresh in recipes and often added towards the end of the cooking process to prevent its distinct aroma and flavour from being ruined. Basil’s notes can be described as sweet and lemony with subtle hints of mint and pepper. However this usually all depends on the type of basil you use. Sweet basil has notes of clove, Genovese basil is similar to sweet basil but much potent and lemon basil is unsurprisingly lemony! Most persons associate basil with Italian cuisine, but its flavour profile lends beautifully to many other dishes and cuisines. Thai basil, a more savoury and licorice-like strain of the herb, is often used in Southeast Asian cooking. Basil also beautifully perfumes cocktails and ice-creams and can be a delightful addition to any salad. So yes, basil is not just for your pasta sauce.


Vanilla Basil Soufflé
Soufflé lends itself beautifully to a variety of flavours. The subtlety of vanilla and basil marries well with the light and airy soufflé, creating a magical bite. Don’t be daunted by soufflés, they may require a little effort but when a gorgeous, blooming soufflé greets you at the oven, you will be thanking the heavens. Serve to a crowd you want to impress (they won’t be disappointed!)
Yields: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
¼  cup granulated sugar
1 ⅓  cups whole milk, divided
⅓  cup granulated sugar
8 basil leaves
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
⅓  cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons lemon zest
¼  teaspoon crushed rosemary
1 ½  tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, separated
Garnish: confectioners' sugar for dusting,​ ​fresh berries
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a large soufflé dish and roll ¼ cup of granulated sugar inside of the dish, making sure to cover all of the interior surfaces. Set aside.
2 In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, bring 1 cup of milk and basil leaves to just steaming.
3 Stir together ⅓ cup granulated sugar, flour, lemon zest, rosemary, and the remaining milk until it forms a smooth batter.
4 Slowly whisk half of the hot milk into the batter, making sure to combine the ingredients until they are completely smooth. Add the tempered batter back into the hot milk in the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer while stirring constantly. Stir and cook the mixture until it has thickened, about 1 minute. Stir the butter into the mixture and allow it to cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract.
5 In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they become pale yellow and foamy. Then add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Continue beating the egg whites on high speed until they hold stiff glossy peaks.
6 Gently stir ⅓ of the egg whites into the vanilla mixture then, carefully fold in the remaining whipped egg whites. The vanilla mixture should be evenly coloured, light and bubbly and without egg white streaks or marbling.
7 Spoon the soufflé mixture into the prepared dish. Cover and allow it to rest for up to 30 minutes or, bake right away for 25 to 30 minutes (slightly longer at high altitudes), until the soufflé has risen with a crusty exterior. Serve the soufflé with a dusting of powdered sugar and a few plump berries, if desired.


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