Gingered Carrot Souffle

This is one of those seductively sweet, orange-hued side dishes that often appear around the holidays. Technically, it's not really a soufflé, but rather a baked purée of carrots, butter, brown sugar and eggs that has a fluffy and delicate soufflé-like texture. It’s along the same lines as a sweet potato casserole — that is to say, not quite dessert but almost sweet enough to be.

While most versions of carrot soufflé are cloyingly sweet, this one tones down the sugar and kicks up the heat with pungent fresh ginger. The best part is that it's incredibly easy to make. You don’t have to whip up any egg whites or keep your oven door closed lest it should fall. All you do is boil the carrots, purée them in a food processor with the other ingredients, pour the mixture into a casserole dish and bake. It's that simple.

It’s most impressive served right out of the oven, steaming hot and slightly puffed, but don't let that stop only deflates a bit and tastes just as delicious once it falls. It also reheats beautifully and makes for fabulous leftovers. Enjoy!

Gingered Carrot Soufflé

serves 6

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
pinch cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
5 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or butter.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook carrots until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Drain carrots and transfer while still hot to a food processor. Add butter and puree until butter is melted and carrots are very finely chopped.

Add remaining ingredients to carrot mixture and puree for several minutes until completely smooth, stopping to scrape the sides of bowl as necessary. The mixture should have the consistency of a thick milkshake with no bits of carrots within. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, smooth top and bake for about 50-60 minutes, until slightly puffed and almost set (it will jiggle slightly even when done).

Jennifer Segal is the founder and publisher of Once Upon a Chef, a cooking blog featuring easy and elegant recipes. Before launching her blog, Jennifer earned her culinary stripes working front and back of the house at some of DC's top fine dining restaurants, including L'Auberge Chez Francois, Sam & Harry's and The Caucus Room.

She has also done private catering and restaurant public relations. Jennifer is a graduate of the professional Culinary Arts Program at L'Academie de Cuisine.