A Variation on Fredy Girardet’s passionfruit souffle

Souffles are so simple I am forever astonished at the oohs and aahs they elicit even in the world’s great restaurants. Fredy Girardet’s renowned passionfruit souffle is served at Girardet’s knockout eatery just out of Lausanne in Switzerland with all the pomp and ceremony usually reserved for royalty. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if M. Girardet’s staff did their training at royal weddings. All that is missing as the souffle arrives is the trumpet fanfare, and the adoring customers make up for that with their gushing.

The bearers present the little A-Bomb gently to the table, step back with a flourish, and, as you bow towards the heavenly dessert, the forever flamboyant maitre d’ wheels in with a flourish, rips the top away with a pair of spoons, and carves the air up before you. They finish the little show with a mellifluous ‘Bon appetit’. A curl of the eyebrows, and the cast of thousands is gone. They could do it in their sleep, so many souffles do they sell.

The show’s the thing at Girardet, but I prefer the pleasure of breaking the dome myself, drawing the foam through some syrup at the base, and letting it all melt away on the tongue. Forget the foreplay — it’s more fun doing it yourself.

Girardet’s souffle is so light because it is basically air, held together by sugar, egg yolks and whites, and intensely flavoured by passionfruit juice. The intensity is increased chez Girardet by the pouring of a passionfruit sauce around the excavated souffle on your plate. The trick Fredy would like you to play out is to draw your spoon through the sauce, into the foam, and into the gob. Guaranteed passionfruit purity. (Every chef has these little eating ‘rules’ for his/her favourite dishes, but few customers adhere to them. You can but hope.)

Something went wrong between the serving of the souffle and the writing of Girardet’s excellent work Cuisine Spontanee. Girardet’s written recipe requires six tablespoons of sugar for one egg. It cannot be. I tried it, and the result was akin to those vile Coolers which are spreading through the world — unbearably sweet. There are people, I suppose, who prefer that sort of souffle. It is guaranteed to retain its dome long after the lights have gone down and the milk bottles have been put out. Too sweet for me, and Girardet’s in situ is not like that. I tried his recipe with one-sixth the sugar, and won an award for desserts from the French Chamber of Commerce.

The incredible thing is that after years of providing pure joy in the restaurant, I went without making this souffle for some time. But you always come back to the things you love. (Sigh.) And so there I was, sieving passionfruit pulp methodically, cleaning whisks and bowls with a scrubbing brush, whisking egg whites with a fury. And, as soon as the kids had achieved Noddy-land, there we were, fighting each other for puffs of passionfruit flavoured air. Fighting is not too strong a term for it. When it was over, we looked at each other, and wondered aloud: why had we left it so long?

Selfishly, we had dismissed the children, because we know only too well how keen they are on this particular creation. Nasty aren’t we? I will never forget the first time we tried M.Girardet’s signature tune. Our little boy, then six months, now seven years, had accompanied us on the very fast, very wonderful, train from Paris to Lausanne on the French/Swiss border, to take lunch at the famous restaurant. Being the good child he was/is, he fell fast asleep as soon as we arrived at our table. We tucked him underneath, surrounding him with the overhanging tablecloths. You would not have known he was there.

He did not move, until the souffle arrived at table. Then he came from his resting place like a lion, attacking the souffle and its accompanying ice cream and sauce with the sort of relish he has not yet lost, and I suspect never will. The souffle has that sort of effect on you.

You can make this souffle for a pair, but it is far easier, especially for the inexperienced, to make it for at least four, preferably more. This recipe is for six.

10 eggs, separated — You will need 6 yolks and all the whites. With the leftover yolks you can make a custard. You may not need all the whites, but better to have too much air, than not enough, and that applies to any souffle.

100g caster sugar

enough passionfruit to provide a cup of juice — There is no easy way to eliminate the seeds. It does help to warm the seeds and pulp gently, before you sieve them, but even then you have to push and shove the juice and pulp for ages. The rest of it is so, so easy. No harm going through a little hard labour.


Make sure your whisks and bowls are perfectly clean. The most certain reason for egg whites failing to mount is the presence of dust or grime in bowl or on whisk. Clean everything twice, and you won’t miss.


Whisk the yolks furiously with half the sugar, added bit by bit, until the mix thickens, then becomes light and fluffy and extra white. Incorporate as much air as you can into the yolks. You will work up quite a sweat, but more is to come.


Now to the whites. Ten egg whites is a rather hefty job for a new comer to whisking, but you must do it by hand first, so you can get the feel of the egg whites mounting. Next time, you can do it in a machine. Lift the whisk (if it’s the same as you used with the yolks, clean it again, more thoroughly this time) through the mix, adding sugar as you go, as if you were turning the soil in the vegetable garden. Try it with left and right hand. Once it gets going it will get easier, and the whites should mount rather quickly. They are ready when they are firm, forming soft peaks against the whisk.


Lightly butter some souffle bowls. It is best that each person has his/her own individual bowl, as the souffle cooks more quickly, and better, in smaller bowls. But the result in family-size bowls is rather attractive anyway, although I find it sets a little at the edges. Set aside a little over half a cup of juice to mix with the yolks and whites, and dribble a millimetre of passionfruit juice into the bottom of each of the bowls.


Add a little juice at a time to the egg yolk mix, whisking it in as you go. The idea is to maintain, as best you can, the foaminess of the yolks, so they can be folded into whites of a similar consistency. Start folding, adding a quarter of the whites at the beginning, then the rest bit by bit, folding gently, trying as best you can to maintain the lightness of the mix. Keep drizzling the juice into the mix as you fold. Taste it, to make sure there is a strong taste of passionfruit. You can’t have too much passion.


Fill each bowl to the top, and bake in a pre-heated, 220°C oven for somewhere around 18 minutes. You can open the door to see how it’s going. Be brave, take it out and have a look. Poke it. Put it back.

It should be just firm, with a little spring to the touch. If you have done the job properly, the souffle will be firm on the outside, soft and creamy and just warm in the middle. Serve with the best ice cream you can make, or buy.

WINE: You can serve good bubbly with this or a fine, botrytis white — nothing too heavy or overpowering.

2 Responses to “A Variation on Fredy Girardet’s passionfruit souffle”

  1. [...] The best souffle recipe is Michel Roux’s soufflé Suisesse, served at Le Gavroche as featured in The Observer’s Top 50 favourite recipes. Jill Dupleix recommends Fredy Girardet’s recipe for passionfruit souffle. [...]

  2. Passionfruit sauce:
    Take fruit and juice from half a dozen passionfruit, warm through.
    Sieve to remove seeds.
    Add sugar to taste (depends on how much juice/pulp there is).
    Bring to boil, remove and allow to cool. Taste.
    Set aside.

    Can’t comment on the 5000 feet model.
    Just a matter of whip up the egg whites and see what happens!!!