When sweet corn is in season, these herb-speckled custards make a lovely accompaniment to a summer meal. Made in individual ramekins, they're light and delicate in texture, sweet and creamy on the palate.
These aren't true soufflés, but the addition of beaten egg whites lightens the custard for similar effect. They will fall slightly once removed from the oven, but this doesn't detract from their taste in any way.
|6||ears of fresh corn (husks and silks removed)|
|1 tablespoon||unsalted butter|
|2 large||eggs (separated)|
|1 large||egg yolk|
|1/2 cup||heavy (whipping) cream|
|2 tablespoons||uncleached all-purpose flour|
|Few gratings of fresh nutmeg|
|3 tablespoons||fresh snipped chives|
|2 tablespoons||minced fresh tarragon, dill or basil|
With a sharp knife, remove the kernels from 2 ears of corn and place the kernels in a bowl. With the remaining 4 ears, use the coarse side of a box grater and grate the kernels off the cobs into the bowl, capturing any milky liquid.
Melt the butter in a large skillet ,and add the kernels and liquid in the bowl. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid evaporates and the corn is creamy, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the corn cool. Measure out 2 cups of corn (the remainder, if any, is for the cook) and let sit at room temperature while you prepare the custard.
Place the 3 egg yolks in a bowl and whisk to blend. Add the heavy cream, sugar, salt, flour, nutmeg and herbs, and whisk to combine. Stir in the reserved 2 cups of corn.
Position a rack in the lower middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter six 1/2-cup ramekins or custard dishes and set aside.
In a clean bowl, whip the 2 egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold the whites into the corn custard mixture. Divide the mixture among the ramekins (a soup ladle is handy for this step). Place the ramekins in a baking pan and add hot water to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the soufflés are puffed, golden and set, 25 to 35 minutes.
Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let rest for 5 minutes. Run a small knife around the perimeter of each dish and unmold the custards onto each serving plate. Alternately, you can serve them right out of the oven in their dishes if you don't wish to unmold the custards.