Ethereally light, sweet, and tangy, individual passion fruit soufflés make a truly impressive ending to a special meal.
Though the mere thought of making a soufflé strikes fear in the hearts of many cooks, the technique is very straightforward, especially for a fruit-based version. It's true that for the best results, the egg whites should be beaten and folded into the fruit base just before cooking, but your efforts will still succeed if you do this step an hour before you're ready to bake the soufflé. This soufflé is meant to be crispy on the exterior and creamy, almost pudding-like in the center.
Remember that all soufflés collapse quickly when they come out of the oven, so this is a dessert that can't wait around. Serve with Passion Fruit Sauce, if you like.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and place a rimmed baking sheet on it. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Butter the bottom and sides of four 12-ounce soufflé dishes and then dust with sugar, tapping to remove the excess. Set aside.
Combine the egg yolks and half of the sugar in a large bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the passion fruit purée and lemon juice.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks begin to form. Add the remaining sugar gradually and beat on high until the whites are stiff and glossy, but not dry. It's important not to overbeat the whites. They're at the perfect stage when a whole raw egg will rest on top of the whites without sinking.
Whisk about a quarter of the egg whites into the passion fruit mixture to lighten the base. Fold in the remainder of the egg whites with a rubber spatula, taking care not to deflate the mixture. Divide the soufflé mixture among the 4 prepared cups. Run your index finger around the topmost inner edge of each dish to a depth of about 1/3 inch. This will help the soufflés to rise properly and eliminate the need for paper collars. If you intend to wait before baking, refrigerate the soufflés, uncovered, for up to an hour.
Transfer the soufflés to the heated baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes without opening the oven door. After 15 minutes you should smell the soufflés if they're done. If your oven has a glass door, peer through the window to see if the tops of the soufflés have browned and have risen about an inch above the rim of the dishes. If your oven doesn't have a glass door or window, quickly peek into the oven to see if the soufflés are golden brown and puffed. If not, continue cooking for another 2 to 4 minutes, or until the aroma tells you they're cooked.
Remove the soufflés from the oven and serve immediately. If you're using the Passion Fruit Sauce, tell your guests to pull open the top of each soufflé and pour in a tablespoon or so of the warm sauce.
Tip: If you don't have any superfine sugar (also called baker's sugar) on hand, you can create your own. Simply place granulated sugar in a clean, dry food processor fitted with the metal blade, and process for 30 seconds to a fine powder.