The Bonfire of the Vanities…

April 16th, 2010

“The dessert was apricot souffle, prepared individually, for each diner, in a stout little crock of the Normandy sort, with borders au rustaud painted by hand near the rim.  Rich desserts were back in fashion this season.  The sort of dessert that showed you were conscious of calories and cholesterol, all the berries and melon balls with a dollops of sherbet, had become just a bit Middle America.  On top of that, to be able to serve twenty-four individual souffles was a tour de force.  It required quite the kitchen and staff and a half.”

Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities, p. 363

The Bonfire of the Vanities explores the political, racial and social tension in 1980s New York City.  Wolfe writes with a similar style to Henry James by focusing more on the internal workings of his characters as opposed to the dialogue and interaction of characters.  I loved it.  All the characters are miserable people and yet you are enthralled by the imagery and surprising plot.  I highly recommend it!  The above passage comes from a scene right before the main character’s life begins to completely unravel.  I liked the use of souffle in this moment to both emphasize the falseness of society but also to highlight his demise or quick fall, much like a souffle.

I made this apricot souffle to submit to Simona and Lisa’s Novel Food Event. (Round up here and here). I decided to try it with the brie just to change it up a little.  Overall, I liked it a lot.  I think I would increase the brie though in the future.  I also realize the irony of making an Alice Waters recipe to illustrate a book passage that is so pretentious… Enjoy!

Apricot-Brie Souffle
(adapted from Alice Waters via Mental Masala)

1/4 cup good quality, not too chunky apricot jam
1/4 cup brie- without the rind (1/8 for bottom of ramekins, 1/8 to melt with the apricot jam)
1 egg yolk
3 egg whites
2 ramekins with 1 cup capacity each

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Butter and breadcrumb the ramekins.  Put the extra brie in the bottom of the ramekins.
3. Combine the jam and brie over low heat until just melted. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then when cool to touch mix with the egg yolk in a large bowl.
4. In a sparkling clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry (the bowl must be very clean because fat severely inhibits the formation of egg foam).
5. Gently fold the egg whites into the jam/yolk base.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dishes. For the best visual effect, fill the dishes all the way to the top.
7. Place the ramekins directly into the oven, or place on a baking sheet to prevent drips from falling onto the oven floor.
8. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F. Bake for 18-20 minutes (until risen and golden on top). I have been having some issues with my oven temp which is why they came out burned.

5 Responses to “The Bonfire of the Vanities…”

  1. Lisa on April 18, 2010 2:41 pm

    Ginny, thank you for contributing to our event. I read The Bonfire of the Vanities in 1991, and I thoroughly enjoyed it as well (sad that the movie was so bad). Your souffle looks and sounds luscious, despite the problem with the oven temp. Thanks again for joining in!

  2. Simona on April 18, 2010 9:46 pm

    I remember watching the movie and not liking it. Your description has made me interested in reading the book. I am very intrigued by the souffle. Thank you for participating in our event.

  3. Manggy on April 19, 2010 8:26 am

    I’m neither a novel-reader nor a movie-watcher (much), but I am a dessert-eater, and I can tell I’m going to give this one great reviews ;)

  4. ruhama on April 19, 2010 1:34 pm

    Mmmm… you’re making me want to read this book, which has always managed to slip off my gigantic list of ‘to-reads’.

    And the fact that your recipe is small is fabulous and also very tempting!

  5. Sugar Rush… at on May 11, 2010 9:35 am

    [...] fridge in preparation for working in DC for the summer.  I had some apricot jam leftover from my Apricot-Brie Souffles and thus a Sachertorte was finally [...]

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Thanks for stopping by Just Get Floury. Let me know what you think!

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind