How To Fake a 4-Star Restaurant Dessert – Passion Fruit Souffle

Big Bossman was out of town for business yesterday so there was no fancy-schmancy dinner party to cook. [Yay!] And since Mrs Big Bossman was alone for dinner it was the perfect day to enjoy a long break, i went to Juan Valdez on 57th to grab some Columbian coffee before heading to a bookstore on Park avenue. I made a few purchase along the way and came back to the apartment around 5pm. Still not in the mood to work, I picked up a book and sat on a sofa with a pint of Ciao Bella passion fruit sorbet. I was feeling good! Mrs Big Bossman came home around 6pm and greeted me:

– Hi Zen, How are you today? she said.
– I’m good M’dam. How are you?
– Great, what a lovely day!
– Yes, it’s beautiful outside. I said.
– You remember i invited Mr & Mrs Badnews for dinner, right? she said probably noticing the lack of activity in the kitchen.

At that instant, all my Zen-ness collapsed to give way to a silent…


(like my Friendly French Chef T-shirt? My buddy Furious chef made it.)

Being a self-control freak, i faked a smile and said: “Of course, mad’am”.

She’d mentioned the guests earlier in the week but i had totally forgotten.

-“Oh, and Mrs Badnews loves your desserts!” she said before leaving the kitchen.

I did a quick assessment of the situation. I would make a frisee salad with poached egg and crispy bacon for appetizer, i had enough sea bass with morels, ramps, fava beans and asparagus for an entree with a warm herb vinaigrette to go with the fish. A few canapes were ready to roll. Overall, i was in pretty good shape except for one small little detail: I had nothing for dessert. Nothing. Nada. Rien du tout except for a half-eaten pint of passion fruit sorbet.

With only 45 min to go before the guests arrived and things to put together i had to fake it fast. It didn’t look good. Friday night, nothing in the fridge, no time to go out and a pint of sorbet nagging me.


This arrogant pint of sorbet must have felt the heat, when i opened it again it had melted into passion fruit puree. Sucker! Even the rats were leaving the ship. [A portion of this post containing lots of swearing and self-kicking was removed.]

Out of despair great things are born sometimes. In an extremely rare moment of brilliance, the Zenstein remembered this life saving equation addition learned in cooking school…

Fruit puree + Yolks + Meringue = Souffle!!

haha!! Who’s laughing now! You round piece of scum!!

These souffles took me 25 minutes to prepare from start to finish (and that includes the cooking time). They came out puffing warm passion-fruit goodness worth of a 4-stars restaurant. Serve with some fresh passion fruit if available and you’ll be in heaven. Enjoy!

Passion-Fruit Souffles
(makes 4 servings)
  • 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup passion-fruit puree (or yes, melted sorbet!)
  • 3/4 cup egg whites (about 4 large eggs)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • 2 fresh passion fruits (optional)
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375’F.
  2. Generously butter the inside and rims of four 6 ounce ramequins. Dust the inside and rims with sugar. Tap out the excess sugar and put the dishes on a baking sheet.
  3. Whisk together the egg yolks and passion-fruit puree in a large bowl until well blended; set aside.
  4. Put the egg whites in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium-low speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the sugar, beating until the whites form glossy medium-stiff peaks. Using a large rubber spatula and a light touch, fold the meringue into the passion fruit mixture until well incorporated but not overmixed.

5. Spoon the souffle mixture into the dishes up to their rims. Run your thumb along the outside edge to remove any excess butter and sugar. Bake the souffles 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. If you touch the tops o the souffles, they should be firm with centers that are still a bit jiggly.

6. Dust the souffles with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately. Serve a half passion fruit on the side if available and instruct guests to scoop some of the pulp in the souffle. Enjoy.

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  • Clumbsy Cookie

    You should get a new tshirt saying “smart friendly french chef”!

  • carol

    Wow! That’s impressive and looks like a lovely dessert. Maybe it’s a girl thing, but I would have probably called one of my chef friends and told them to meet me out back in the alley pronto with some sacher tortes. Lol. And, yes, sigh, it has happened.

  • Kevin

    That souffle looks great!

  • glamah16

    You literally pulled that out of your derriere and saved your derriere! Brilliant.The souffles look wonderful.

  • Mary Coleman

    Great save there Zen!!
    They look so good. Genius at work should be your t-shirt!

  • Julie

    So do you call her M’dam or mad’am?

  • AzAzura

    Ha,ha, see that’s why you are a great chef,If I were in such situation I would throw my tantrums , who would have thought of something like that except for our Zen Chef :)

  • Ginny

    Great job! You totally pulled it off! Delicious!

  • cook eat FRET

    oh now, that was very very good. congrats. i’m a passionfruit fan myself…

    that whole dinner sounds splendid. the firsee salad and the bass with morels and ramps and favas.. i’d freakin’ kill for that. no really. so so so very my kind of food.

  • Heather

    Nice save, my friend. That’s the kind of out-of-ass pulling that I usually come up with!

    Creative under pressure is a very useful skill. :)

  • Psychgrad

    Very impressive. If it were me, I’d be making kraft dinner and adding extra cheese to make it look like a fancy three cheese pasta dish. Maybe the sorbet with chocolate sauce over top.

  • Alejandra

    Genius! I love it. And passion fruit is one of my absolute favorite flavors ever…

  • Emiline

    How do you do it? You impress me so much.
    I would have panicked and ran away.
    I usually am too scared to make a souffle, but now I need to try. I may sub another fruit, though. I don’t think?? we have passion fruit.

  • Colloquial Cook

    A French chef has stylish recipes and a stylish outfit. I concur.
    C’est pas trop dur de manger un soufflé, en piochant dans un fruit, tout en prenant des photos avant que le soufflé ne se fasse la malle? A mon avis, tu as besoin d’un sidekick pour te faciliter le travail. (moi, moi, moi!) – pour manger, hein, pas pour prendre les photos, haha

  • Big Boys Oven

    this is so clever and creative of you! well excuted, It is a 5-star dessert!

  • chiff0nade

    Well I am a PROFESSIONAL CHEF educated at Peter Kump’s Culinary Institute in Brooklyn, NY. I am a former restaurant owner, and I am a SENIOR ADVISER for SeriousEats website.

    As such, I am really curious . . . how do you come up with the four star rating?

  • My Sweet & Saucy

    What a great story and dessert…sheer brilliance!

  • Claude-Olivier

    Et bien, la classe comme d’hab, capable de se sortir de toutes les situations 😉 bien joué!

  • Chicken & Waffles

    How do you say genius in French? I believe the exact translation is “Zen Chef.” Bravo, my friend!

  • Meghan

    I love that you posted this experience…

    The makings of a good chef, home cook, food lover…. combined with love of ingredients and good skills…
    is the ability to “throw” something together. In your case it wasn’t “everything but the kitchen sink” … it was a gorgeous souffle!

    I love also that I’ve learned a new equation fruit puree+ yolks+meringue= souflee!

  • Elle

    Zen, you never cease to amaze me! Same goes for your creations. I want one of those now. :)

  • doggybloggy

    beautiful save….you are my hero

  • cakewardrobe

    You always turn chaos into heaven somehow – can you rub some of that off on me?

  • Chicopea

    jeebers. I would have feigned sudden kidney stones/dementia. nice save! You make it look too easy.

  • Helen

    Ahah…I was on the same wave length tonight when my uncle asked what was for dessert and I gave him a blank stare…duh! Of course he wnated dessert. It was lemon souffle for us but I would have gladly traded/shared with you!

  • aria

    ooh look at those perfect souffles! fluffy

    i love passionfruits too, i was on the hunt last week to try and make creme brulees but can’t find any…..sniff

  • Rasa Malaysia

    Wow, this souffle looks absolutely delish…I want 3 please. BTW, I suppose I can use other fruit?

  • Mike of Mike’s Table

    That sounds a wee bit stressful, but it looks like you did a beautiful job of hiding it! The souffle looks excellent

  • Anali

    You are awesome! Cooking and baking under pressure really shows off what you got!

  • Susan from Food Blogga

    I’d shuck all the oysters you could hurl at me for one of those passion fruit souffles.

  • Cindy. Lo.

    This is awesome,
    I can apply any other kinds of sorbet for this recipe,
    Zen Chef you’re a genius!

  • foodhuntress79

    Always last to comment! 😉 Souffles + French chefs… no comment. Perfect, perfect. Whatever happened to the chef who murders eggs? Friendly now? Oh, the eggs went into the souffle, I see! Haha. Wow.

  • waliz

    well done zen… u r genius!

  • Ann

    Brilliant! And so tasty-looking!

  • jesse

    What’s up there, Smarty-pants? That’s such a great save. My hero~ *sigh*

  • Cassoulet Cafe

    Wow, i am WAY impressed! Those turned out gorgeous! And a great story to go with it.

  • Anonymous

    Hi from Australia!
    I stumbled over your recipe after a quick google search. I was so impressed I tried it out. I substituted passionfruit with apricot puree – from my tree – and it was delicious. I couldn’t believe how sucessful they were so I made them again for family, and they were perfect too! I also warmed extra sauce and poured it into the top like you suggested, and everyone was very impressed.
    Thanks again, keep up the great work.

  • chef gui

    zen chef, that’s a funny post. thanks for the laugh.

    i actually use ciao bella gelato a lot in my kitchen. so believe me, i’ll keep all that in mind.