So what the heck is pâte à bombe, anyway? Pâte à bombe is aptly named, for it is, not to put too fine a point on it, the bomb. It’s a rich concoction of cooked sugar syrup and egg yolks, whipped up into a light, creamy consistency. Oh come on, Joe! Don’t make me learn how to make some esoteric French pastry ingredient that I’ll only use once in my life!
Ah, but hang on a minute. For pâte à bombe is one of those base components which, once you learn how to make it, you can find all sorts of interesting uses for. It’s the basis of French buttercream, for example. Also of a very silky style of non-custard pastry cream, and of course mousses, parfaits…there’s almost no limit. Plus it freezes extremely well, which makes it a handy secret weapon for those instances when you want to (literally) whip up something special on short notice. The formula goes like so:
12 ounces sugar
3 ounces water
12 egg yolks (9 ounces)
Combine the sugar and water in a small, preferably heavy, saucepan and bring the mixture to 248 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, whip the egg yolks in a stand mixer until light and frothy. Pour the hot syrup into a glass measure and with the machine off, pour a thin stream into the egg yolks. Turn the mixer on high for about 10 seconds to incorporate. Continue in this way until all the sugar syrup has been used. Continue to whip on medium-high until the pâté à bombe has almost doubled in volume and the bowl cools down to being somewhat warm to the touch.