FOR THE SOUFFLE
soft unsalted butter for greasing, plus a sprinkling of caster sugar
150g dark chocolate with 70% cocoa, broken into small pieces
6 egg whites
125g caster sugar
icing sugar, for dusting
FOR THE VANILLA CREAM
300ml single cream
2 vanilla pods, split open
To make the soufflés, use a pastry brush to coat the insides of 4 medium ramekins (about 100ml size) with a layer of soft butter. To do this, make sure you brush the butter upwards to form tramlines (this will help the soufflés to rise). Coat evenly with caster sugar, shaking out any excess. Put the ramekins in the fridge to set the butter.
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and leave to melt, stirring occasionally. Remove from the water and set aside. Combine the egg whites with a third of the caster sugar in another heatproof bowl and set it over the pan of simmering water. Using an electric whisk, beat well for at least 5 mins, or until the mixture has doubled in volume. Remove from the water and continue to whisk, gradually adding the remaining sugar to form a thick, glossy meringue.
Spoon a third of the meringue into the melted chocolate and whisk gently together. Very carefully fold in the remainder, just until no speck of white remains. Fill the ramekins with the mixture, smooth the top and bake in the oven for 20-25 mins, or until well risen.
To make the vanilla cream, warm the cream in a pan for about 3 mins, but take care not to let it boil. Using the back of a knife, scrape the seeds from the pods and add to the cream. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse.
To serve, pour the cream into little jugs, set a soufflé on each plate and dust with icing sugar. Serve the cream alongside.