4 ears fresh summer corn, husks and silk removed, kernels cut off
1 cup heavy cream, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, separated
Zest of 1/2 lemon, removed with a microplane
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup blackberries
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a six-by-six-inch baking dish, or 10-inch cast-iron skillet, or six (six-ounce) ramekins heavily with nonstick baking spray, such as Baker’s Joy.
Combine one cup of corn kernels, 1/2 cup of the cream, the sugar, and the salt in a two-quart saucepan. Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean down the center lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add those along with the pod to the saucepan. Bring this to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and let it steep for 10 minutes more. Pluck out the vanilla pod and discard, or save for another use. Carefully transfer the contents to a blender and puree until totally smooth. Set aside.
Stir together the flour and baking powder and set aside. In the same saucepan, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of cream over medium heat till bubbles form around the edges. Whisk in the flour mixture and continue cooking till it thickens up, three to five minutes. It will be very pasty. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, two tablespoons at a time.
Once the flour mixture is close to room temperature, add the pureed corn, egg yolks, lemon zest, and remaining cup of corn kernels. Stir it up well to make a nice homogenous mixture.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they reach stiff peaks. Fold them gently into the corn mixture. Fill your baking dish, skillet, or ramekins with soufflé. (If using ramekins, place them on a rimmed baking sheet.) Sprinkle the soufflé with nutmeg and bake, uncovered, in the center of your oven. The baking dish or skillet will take about 35 minutes. The ramekins will take roughly 25 minutes. The soufflé should rise up just above the edge of the vessel. Remove from oven, top with blackberries, and serve. The soufflé does not need to be served hot. (It won’t be as pouffy, but it will be just as tasty.) Cooled to room temperature, it can be kept in refrigerator for up to one week.
Recipe adapted from Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South, by Vivian Howard (Little Brown, 2016).
PRO TIP: “Once the corn has been picked, it’s really important to cool it down to avoid starchy, dry kernels. Put your ears directly in the refrigerator, or better yet, blanch them, cut the kernels off of the cob, and freeze.”
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