Some people like to pull out all the stops when entertaining. If that’s your attitude, this recipe is for you: a savory soufflé with gruyère and thyme to serve as a first course. Drumroll, please.

I am always on the lookout for “better” recipes, ones that can be thoroughly enjoyed without excess calories and guilt. This UK cooking show star has come up with the perfect baking formulas for creating desirable baked goods with less sugar and fat.

Each recipe in the book, which is beautifully photographed, ends with a chart that compares her version to a traditional version. Most impressive—she did not resort to “fake” sugars to accomplish this. A wonderful dinner party idea that I chose to include in my all-white Chill Party plan.

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Gruyère & Thyme Soufflé

“To make them healthier, I have done things like omitted the bread crumbs on the side of the dish, as I find the soufflés rise without them, and replaced some of the butter with olive oil to lower the saturated fat. These are as light as air and collapse so, so quickly, so get them to the table as soon as you can!”


Spray oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, + extra for dusting
1 tsp English mustard powder
1 cup plus 2 tbsp low-fat milk
3 oz Gruyère cheese, roughly grated
4 eggs, separated
2 tsp finely chopped fresh chives
Leaves from 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put a baking sheet into the oven to get nice and hot. This will ensure that the soufflés have some bottom heat, which will help them shoot up (and also, putting all the ramekins on a sheet makes it much easier to take them in and out of the oven). Spray the insides of six 2⁄3-cup ramekins with oil, dust lightly with flour and set aside.

Put the butter and olive oil into a medium pan on medium heat and allow the butter to melt. Then add the flour and mustard powder and mix well to form a thick paste before removing from the heat. Add the milk gradually, stirring all the time until well blended. If you add it slowly while stirring, then you will avoid any lumps forming in the mixture. Once all of the milk is added, return the pan to the heat and bring it to a boil, stirring continuously. Reduce the heat to simmer for 5–6 minutes, continuing to stir all the time now until it begins to get nice and thick. Add the cheese, mixing well until fully melted, and then remove from the heat. Beat in the egg yolks, chives, thyme and seasoning until it is all combined and uniform. Scoop it out into a mixing bowl and set aside.

Next, put the egg whites into a bowl and whisk them up until they are nice and frothy, almost meringuelike. Be careful not to overwhisk them or they will go like bubble bath and not mix into the sauce well at all (and I have been there many times! The soufflé still tastes good and will rise, but the texture is a bit different and not quite as good). Stir a third of the egg whites into the reserved sauce. Don’t worry about folding it in this time, just mix it in really quickly and well so that it loosens the sauce. Then add the remaining egg whites to the sauce in two batches, folding them in more gently this time to keep the air in. Everything should now be well combined.

Next, divide the mixture equally among the six ramekins. Bang the ramekins on the work surface to make sure the mixture has fallen into all the “corners.” Then run your thumb down into the edge of the soufflé and along the inside of the ramekin, going all the way around. This will help to prevent the soufflé from sticking to the sides and therefore rise more easily.

Carefully remove the hot baking sheet from the oven and place the ramekins on it. Bake the soufflés in the oven for 12–15 minutes or until golden on the top and well risen. Don’t open the oven before the soufflés are cooked as they will collapse. Having said that, if you do open the oven, once the soufflés are back in they will still rise up somewhat, but not to the heights of their pre– oven opening former glory!

Once ready, remove the baking sheet from the oven, take it straight to the table and serve asap.

Reprinted with permission from A Lighter Way to Bake by Lorraine Pascale

See more recipes and ideas for creating an eye-catching, totally white buffet in 02 An All White Party