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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

How a Volcano is Like a Souffle

By January 23, 2010

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Volcanic Eruption (Wolfgang Beyer)You know you can make a baking soda and vinegar volcano to simulate a volcanic eruption or you can use other ingredients like yeast and peroxide or citric acid and baking soda, but have you considered how the cooking of a souffle is a volcano simulation? While the bubbles formed by the chemical reactions used to make 'volcanoes' behave somewhat like magma and gases, a souffle probably is a better simulant because the egg whites of a souffle harden sort of like lava hardens into rock. Lava can be foamy as the gases in magma come out of solution, forming bubbles of steam, carbon dioxide, and other gases. When a souffle is cooked, the air bubbles and steam trapped by the egg expand, causing the souffle to rise. When the gas bubbles form in magma expand, they can forcefully bubble the magma up so that it erupts as lava. If a souffle overflows its dish, you get a foamy mess that rolls down the side of the pan and eventually hardens as the egg cooks. When lava erupts from a volcano, it can cascade down the side of the cone, with the lava hardening into rock.

Are you ready to try out an edible chemical volcano? It's more complicated than mixing baking soda and vinegar, but it tastes a whole lot better, so it's worth the trouble.

Individual Chocolate Souffles
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or grated
  • 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 6 egg whites, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • butter or nonstick cooking spray
  • granulated or powdered sugar or cocoa powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

  2. Butter or spray 6 personal-size ramekins. Sprinkle the inside of the ramekins with granulated sugar.

  3. Melt the chocolate in a bowl that you have set inside of a pan of very hot water.

  4. Once the chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from heat and whisk in the egg yolks.

  5. In a separate bowl (preferably copper), beat together the egg whites plus a pinch of salt until soft peaks form.

  6. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar. Continue beating the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.

  7. Stir a spoonful of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites. Continue folding until the mixture is uniformly-colored.

  8. Equally divide the mixture between the 6 prepared ramekins.

  9. You can bake the souffles right away or can allow them to rest for up to 30 minutes. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the souffle is set and the tops are crusty.

  10. Sprinkle the souffles with your choice of powdered sugar, granulated sugar, or cocoa powder.

  11. Enjoy your treat and try to imagine the tasty chocolate confection is molten lava, which is what it will feel like on your tongue if you don't let the ramekins cool enough before diving in.

Comments

May 6, 2009 at 10:03 am
(1) Destiny Henderson says:

This valcano is awesomnesssss!!!!

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