Carrot Souffle

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Whipped carrot custard. Pecan streusel topping. Yes.

Put this up against any pie at a holiday feast and I predict you’ll have the crowd favorite. I say this following careful study. By that I mean, I made it for a work Thanksgiving potluck and saw more than one person asking, “how did you make this?” as they bypassed the pumpkin pie for another scoop. It’s become a regular on my family’s Thanksgiving table and we serve it with dinner because, well, it’s a vegetable (ehhhh?). But it would be a great addition to any party if you want a dessert disguised as a side dish, or just a twist on a classic crumble. Label it any course you want, it will be delicious. I love the airy texture with the crunch topping, and that striking orange perfume that cuts the richness (there is more than a little butter in here).

Best of all: it’s simple to make and the sum is greater than its parts. I love spending all day on the complex, multi-phase projects like: braising shortribs for 8 hours; homemade dinner rolls; baking, frosting and painting holiday cookies with pearl dust; or, the Mount Everest of baking, a Momofuku Milk Bar cake. It gives me a sense of accomplishment when I tackle a recipe that requires advanced Amazon purchases, trips to multiple grocery stores and 6 hours of labor. But it’s important to have those knockout recipes you know you can prepare in less than an hour (not including cooking time) using only a handful of dishes and minimal counter space.

Carrot souffle has three phases: Boil carrots. Puree (or blend) carrots, butter and dry ingredients. Then top with crumble and bake.

A brief blending aside: I have made this with a food processor, and it works beautifully when you just let the blade go for a few minutes. Then I made it in a friend’s Vitamix, and I cannot overstate the difference in the results. The carrot mixture looked like smooth, bright orange lava. The texture was similar to when you whip egg whites for what feels like an eternity, and then suddenly they become that glossy, shaving cream-like meringue. That said, if you don’t have access to this machine (which I normally don’t), do not fret, it will still be delicious.

Carrot Souffle

Courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 pounds carrots, chopped
6 large eggs
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Topping:
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch casserole with the oil and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the carrots, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes; drain. Combine the carrots with the remaining ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Depending on the size of your processor, you may need to do this in batches.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared casserole.

Combine the brown sugar, pecans, flour, and butter in a medium bowl. Stir to blend. Scatter the mixture over the top of the casserole and bake until the topping is lightly browned, 55 minutes to 1 hour.

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