The creamy yet airy consistency of this soufflé contrasts
beautifully with the texture and bright flavour of the apple
For greasing:softened butter120 gmcaster sugar, plus extra for dusting6eggwhitesTo serve:pure icing sugarApple sorbet220 gm(1 cup) caster sugar4Granny Smith apples, unpeeledJuiceof ½ lemonPear and vanilla soufflé base20 gmbutter, diced2ripe beurre Bosc pears, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped60 gmpure icing sugar180 mlmilk1vanilla bean, split and seeds scrapedThinlypeeled rind of 1 lemon, juice of ½6egg yolks60 gmcaster sugar40 gmplain flour20 mlpear liqueur
For apple sorbet, stir sugar and 125ml water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil, cook for 1 minute, then cool completely. Juice apples, skim off any froth, stir into sugar syrup, then churn immediately in an ice-cream machine and freeze. Makes about 1 litre.
For pear and vanilla soufflé base, melt butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add pears and toss to coat and soften slightly (1-2 minutes), then sieve icing sugar over pears and toss to coat. Cook, tossing occasionally, until pears are tender and caramelised (6-8 minutes). Remove from heat and purée in a food processor until smooth. Bring milk, vanilla bean and seeds, and rind to the simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk yolks, sugar, flour and lemon juice in a bowl, strain milk into yolk mixture while whisking, then return to pan and whisk continuously until bubbling, thick and smooth (2-3 minutes). Whisk in liqueur and 3 tbsp pear purée (reserve remaining), then transfer to a bowl, cover directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill. This can be made 2-3 days ahead.
Preheat oven to 180C. Butter six 200ml ramekins, using upward strokes to help soufflés rise, then dust with sugar and shake out excess. Spoon a little reserved pear purée into the bases and set aside.
Transfer soufflé base to a large bowl and whisk to loosen. Whisk eggwhites and a pinch of salt in a large bowl until soft peaks form, gradually pour in sugar and whisk until firm and glossy, but not dry (2-3 minutes). Fold a third of the eggwhite into the soufflé base to lighten, then fold in remaining eggwhite. Spoon into ramekins, smooth tops with a palette knife then run your thumb and forefinger around the edges to clean them (this also helps the soufflés rise smoothly). Bake until golden and risen (10-12 minutes), then dust with icing sugar and serve immediately with apple sorbet.