Ingredients

  • 1 small onion
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 300ml/10fl oz milk
  • 40g/11⁄2oz butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 40g/11⁄2oz plain flour
  • 50g/13⁄4oz Stilton, crumbled
  • 75g/21⁄2oz cheddar, finely grated
  • 3 free-range eggs, separated
  • grating fresh nutmeg
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 30g/1oz walnut halves, roughly chopped
  • 120ml/4fl oz double cream


Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Lightly butter eight ramekin dishes and line the bases with a circle of baking paper.
  2. Peel the onion, leaving the base intact. Press the cloves into the onion, then put it in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the bay leaf and peppercorns, then pour in the milk. Heat gently until it comes to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to stand for at least 10 minutes. Strain the flavourings from the milk and discard them.
  3. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over a medium heat. Stir in the flour and continue cooking, stirring all the time, for 1–2 minutes. Slowly pour in the warm milk and beat well using a whisk until it comes to a simmer and you have a thick sauce.
  4. Crumble in the Stilton and add 50g/13⁄4oz of the grated cheddar, then continue to stir over the heat until you have a smooth sauce. Remove from the heat and beat in the egg yolks, nutmeg and thyme. Stir in the walnuts.
  5. In a clean glass bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold a tablespoon of the beaten whites into the soufflé mixture. Add the rest of the whites and fold in well.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins to just below the top. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until risen and cooked. Leave to cool, then run a knife around the sides to loosen them. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Turn out the soufflés on to the prepared baking sheet, so they are bottom-side-up. If refrigerating and eating the following day, cover with cling film.
  7. To finish the soufflés, preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the soufflés and spoon a tablespoon of double cream over each one. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden-brown. Serve.