Individual Chocolate Souffles

These little chocolate souffles seem like a special occasion dessert, but are actually quite easy. They can even be made ahead and frozen until you are ready to bake them. I like to make them for our New Year's dinner. This recipe should make four to six souffles, depending on the size of your ramekins. I usually get six.

Chocolate Souffles

5 oz good quality, bittersweet chocolate
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs and 2 egg yolks
1/4 cup flour
dash salt

Butter and sugar individual souffle dishes. Melt chocolate and butter in a medium bowl over simmering water, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl, beat sugar, salt, eggs and yolks in large bowl 5 minutes at high speed. Sift flour over mixture and fold in. Gradually fold in lukewarm chocolate mixture. Divide among prepared dishes.

Bake at 400 degrees, until puffed on top and beginning to crack - about 15-20 minutes. Center should remain soft. Carefully unmold into serving dishes and serve warm, with cream.

Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing

I have to admit. I'm not a big fan of turkey, so for me it's all about the side dishes, starting with the stuffing. For at least a decade, we tried a different stuffing recipe every year until we hit on this one. With the bright red dried cranberries, it even looks good.

Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing

5 cups bread cubes, white, wheat or a combination 
1 pound good quality pork sausage
1 apple, cored and diced
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
2 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Giblets, if you have them, cooked and chopped
3/4 cup turkey or chicken stock
4 tablespoons melted butter

 Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until evenly toasted - about5 to 7 minutes. 
 Cook sausage and onions over medium heat until sausage is brown and onion is soft. Stir in the celery and herbs and cook a further 2-3 minutes.
 Combine sausage mixture and bread in a large bowl. Mix in chopped apples, dried cranberries, parsley, and giblets if you are using them. Drizzle with turkey stock and melted butter, and mix lightly and thoroughly. If not using to stuff a turkey, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Panna Cotta

We like having dessert as much as the next family, but we generally prefer something simple and not too sweet. This Panna Cotta recipe is just the thing for those occasions. Adjust the sweetener depending on the level of sweetness you prefer. 

Panna Cotta

2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar, or honey if you prefer
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2  teaspoons gelatin

1. Heat 1 1/2 cups of the cream and the sugar over low heat until sugar is dissolved and cream is hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

2. While cream heats, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cream in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Pour the very warm cream and sugar mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

4. Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into lightly oiled custard cups for unmolding into serving dishes, or into goblets or other decorate glasses to serve without unmolding. Chill several hours, or until firm. 

5. If unmolding, run a thin sharp knife around the edge of the cup. Unmold onto serving plate

6. Garnish as desired

Four servings