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Chocolate-banana souffles

SERVES 4

Butter (for the dishes)

Confectioners' sugar (for sprinkling)

2 bananas

4 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 teaspoon dark rum (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs, separated

1 extra egg white

Squeeze of lemon juice

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Butter four 1/2-cup ramekins or custard cups and dust them with confectioners' sugar.

2. Place the unpeeled bananas in a baking dish and bake them for 30 minutes or until they brown and start to split open.

3. Meanwhile, in a double boiler set over simmering water, combine the chocolate and cream. Stir over low heat until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat and cool.

4. Peel the bananas, transfer them to a bowl and mash them with the butter. Stir in the rum, if using, and vanilla.

5. In a mixer, beat the bananas with the yolks. Beat in the chocolate mixture until thoroughly blended. Let the mixture cool completely.

6. In another bowl, beat the 3 whites until they hold soft peaks. Add a pinch of confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and continue beating until they are stiff.

7. Stir half of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate-banana base, then gently fold in the remaining.

8. Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared ramekins. Set them in a roasting pan and add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the dishes.

9. Bake the souffles for 20 minutes, until they puff and brown slightly. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve at once.

Adapted from Robert Harris

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