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Recipe: Soufflé of goat cheese and walnuts

Recipe: Soufflé of goat cheese and walnuts
FOR STARTERS: Goat cheese adds a tangy undercurrent to the earthy walnuts in this do-ahead soufflé. (Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times)

Total time: 45 minutes

Servings: 6

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Note: The walnuts should be ground as fine as sand.

Butter

4 ounces (scant 1/2 cup) creamy fresh goat cheese

1/2teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

3 egg yolks

1/8teaspoon salt

5 egg whites

1/8teaspoon cream of tartar

3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (3 ounces) very finely ground walnuts

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and generously butter 6 (one-half cup) straight-sided ramekins or individual soufflé molds. Beat together the goat cheese, thyme leaves, egg yolks and salt until completely smooth.

2. Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form, as described in the recipe above.

3. Fold about half of the goat cheese mixture into the egg whites, using a hand-held balloon whisk or a spatula. Cut straight down through the purée and the egg whites, scrape the bottom and lift the egg whites over the goat cheese. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. Keep doing this until the goat cheese is fully incorporated, 4 or 5 times.

4. Add the remaining goat cheese and the finely ground walnuts and fold them in the same way. When you're done, the goat cheese should be evenly distributed but there may be small patches of egg white remaining. Do not over-mix.

5. Using a large soup spoon, divide the soufflé mixture among the ramekins. If you have excess batter, either bake it in another ramekin or discard it. (The recipe can be made to this point and refrigerated or frozen as in the recipe above.)

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6. Put a jellyroll pan in the heated oven and arrange the soufflé ramekins on it. Bake until the tops are puffed and golden brown in spots, 18 to 23 minutes. A sure sign of doneness is when the soufflé becomes extremely fragrant. Do not over-bake, or the center will be dry.

7. Remove and serve immediately.

Each serving: 176 calories; 10 grams protein; 2 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 15 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 115 mg. cholesterol; 166 mg. sodium.

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