Parmesan Potato and Ham Soufflés

Parmesan Potato and Ham Soufflés

4 tablespoons butter – melted
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese – divided
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 1/2 cups instant potato flakes or buds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs – separated
2/3 cup chopped baked ham or prosciutto (about 3 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup chopped ripe black olives (optional)
small basil leaves – for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Brush the bottoms and sides of 4 individual soufflé dishes (12 ounces each) with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Sprinkle the dishes with the 2 tablespoons of cheese to coat evenly.

Bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Stir in the potato flakes, salt and remaining butter; remove from the heat. Beat the cream and egg yolks in a small bowl; stir into the potatoes with the ham, pepper and the remaining cheese.

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar in another large bowl with an electric mixer on high until firm peaks form; gently fold into the potato mixture. Spoon into the prepared dishes, dividing it evenly. Bake the soufflés on a jelly-roll pan for 15 to 20 minutes or until puffy and set. Garnish with the olives and basil, if desired, and serve immediately.