Food & Drink

Warm Cheese Soufflé

Old-world cuisine meets modern Chesapeake ingredients with this cozy dish from the newly reopened Magdalena restaurant inside Baltimore’s Ivy Hotel

Photo: Erin Sha

When the Ivy Hotel in Baltimore shut its doors this past summer in the face of the coronavirus, Mark Levy, the executive chef of the hotel’s European-centric restaurant Magdalena, did not use the downtime to rest. Instead, he completely revamped the menu, which once focused on high-end European fare, to center more on the splendors of the surrounding area. “I wanted it to be more appropriate to the times we’re living in and to better showcase the region,” Levy says. Now, Levy serves Eastern Shore crab cakes and cheese dip made from local goat cheese alongside British fish and chips battered in Beazly beer from local brewpub Brewer’s Art. 

A prime example of the Magdalena’s new spin: Levy’s soufflé Suissesse appetizer, which combines British and French techniques with regional Chesapeake spirit. “The cheese traditionally used is Gruyere, but you can use anything similar, like cheddar,” he says. “We use Mountaineer from Meadow Creek Creamery in Virginia. It’s a showstopper.” A combination of butter, milk, eggs, cream, and cheese, this rich dish is simple but takes patience and technique. “The most important part is buttering the mold,” he says. “I butter it once then put it in the fridge to let it set, then butter it again.” If you’re short on soufflé molds, a simple teacup will work just as well. 


  • Soufflé Suissesse (Serves 4–6)

    • The chef recommends measuring in milliliters and grams for precision. Our conversions are approximate.

    • 45 g. butter, plus extra to butter the molds (approximately ⅕ cup)

    • 45 g. plain flour (approximately ⅓ cup)

    • 500 ml milk (approximately 2⅒ cups)

    • 5 egg yolks

    • 6 egg whites

    • 600 ml heavy cream (approximately 2 ½ cups)

    • 200 g. local Gruyere cheese, grated (approximately 1 ¾ cups)

    • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Heavily butter four three-inch tartlet molds or teacups. Set aside. 

  2. Melt the 45 grams of butter in a saucepan, whisk in the flour, and cook for about a minute. Whisk in the milk bit by bit to create a béchamel sauce. Once combined, cook for 3 minutes, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Remove from the heat and beat in the egg yolks to make an enriched béchamel sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with cling wrap in contact with the surface to prevent a skin from developing.

  3. In another bowl, combine the egg whites with a pinch of salt and whisk into soft peaks. Add one third of the enriched béchamel to the whites and combine completely. Fold (do not stir) the rest of the béchamel into the egg whites until no uncombined egg white can be seen. The mixture should still be light and airy. 

  4. Spoon the mixture into the buttered molds and bake on a tray in the oven for 3–4 minutes until the tops start to turn golden.

  5. Meanwhile, heat the heavy cream in a saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Pour it into a gratin dish or into individual soup dishes.

  6. To turn the soufflés out, loosen the edges with a small palette knife if needed, and then flip onto the warm, seasoned cream in the serving dish. Sprinkle the soufflés and surrounding cream with the cheese and put them back in the oven for about 5 minutes to re-rise. Finish them briefly under the broiler.