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Looking for a romantic night out? Celebrate Valentine's Day all month with these date-night ideas

Recipe inspiration can come from just about anywhere. This frozen Grand Marnier soufflé is a delicious example.

“Years ago, we had a customer who always had us make the Italian custard dessert sabayon for him at dinner. It was prepared tableside at the Fife. He also insisted we use Grand Marnier, rather than the traditional Marsala,” explains Elissa Potts, owner of the Fife ’n Drum Restaurant and Inn in Kent.

When chef Stefan Kappes joined the Fife in 2014, Potts told him the story of the sabayon. “From there, chef Kappes transformed the recipe and the dessert grew into the frozen soufflé so it could be served more frequently. When the dessert was made tableside, we always risked the eggs overcooking on our gas burner. It was always a challenge.”

Kappes describes the dish as a bit exotic with a blend of old school, yet is simple to make. “Not all fine-dining restaurants need every dish to be difficult and time consuming to prepare,” he says. The short ingredient list also makes the soufflé, with its decadent raspberry coulis sauce, a favorite for home cooks to surprise their guests or loved one on Valentine’s Day. “Grand Marnier, a French cordial, is the perfect blend of Cognac and the distilled essence of bitter oranges. Just a hint of this liquor in the soufflé transcends the dessert from ordinary to aphrodisiac ... and who knows better than the French about romance?”

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Chef Stefan Kappes and owner Elissa Potts

When deciding on recipes, Kappes is mindful of current trends. On both lunch and dinner menus, the chef features both vegan and gluten-free options, from appetizers to desserts. When local produce is available, the restaurant incorporates as much as possible into the daily specials. Defining his culinary style, Kappes tends toward a modern interpretation of classic French continental. “Fads come and go but the classic dishes always can be reinvented using unexpected ingredients or adapting them to meet current trends and health demands. Often I take a recipe and then add my personal touch to the dish,” he says.

Initially, Kappes studied business administration but found his calling at the Culinary Institute of America, completing an externship at La Petite Marmite in New York. Upon graduation, Kappes worked under chef Charlie Palmer at the River Café then opened Stefani Trattoria in New York. Enduring a daily nine-year commute from Queens to Westchester, he sold the restaurant and moved to Connecticut in 1998. 

The joy of cooking, Kappes says, comes from experimenting with different ingredients and inventing new dishes. “At the Fife, we change our printed menu three times a year and offer a daily specials menu for both lunch and dinner. This allows us to take advantage of seasonal ingredients or current food trends,” he says. “Frequently, nearby farmers stop in with something they have just pulled from the garden and we are able to add it to the evening’s special menu. Instant creativity is the most exciting part of the job.”

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Frozen Grand Marnier Soufflé

Yield: 8 8-ounce portions • Time: 30-45 minutes

Soufflé

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 6 ounces granulated sugar
  • 3 ounces Grand Marnier liqueur
  • 1½ pints heavy cream

Make whipped cream. Place the cream in a bowl and whip on low speed for 1 minute and slowly turn up to high speed and whip for about 5-8 minutes until firm. Do not add flavoring. The cream can be made ahead of time and placed in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Combine the egg yolks, whole eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and whip on high speed for at least 10 minutes, until the mixture is pale yellow and ribbons form when you lift the mixer from the bowl.

Gently fold in about 1 pint of the whipped cream with a hand-whisk or spatula until smooth. Leave about a half-pint for garnish.

Add the Grand Marnier and gently whisk into the custard.

Pour the soufflé mixture into a stemmed wine glass, leaving a 1-inch space from the top to later add the raspberry coulis. Freeze. Will take an hour to set.

Raspberry coulis

  • 1 half-pint fresh raspberries (can substitute 1 7-ounce package of frozen raspberries)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup high-quality raspberry jam, preferably Bonne Maman or Hero (you can substitute with a less-expensive brand such as Smucker’s, but the flavor will be less intense)
  • 1 tablespoon Chambord liqueur, or any other raspberry liqueur of your choice

Place the raspberries, sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes until soft.

Put the raspberries, jam and Chambord in a food processor and purée until smooth, about 2 minutes. Chill until ready to assemble.

When ready to serve, pour a few tablespoons of the coulis on top of the soufflé and garnish with a dollop of whipped cream.

The dessert can be made up to 2 days ahead of serving.

Pamela Brown is a former English professor, a prolific freelance writer, and author of Faithful Love, her first novel that inspired a love of writing. She resides in Connecticut with her daughter, Alexis, who makes her life an adventure. 

This article appeared in the February 2019 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale here. Send us your feedback on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag, or email editor@connecticutmag.com.