Pâte à bombe

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.

32 thoughts on “Pâte à bombe”

  1. Do you need to reduce the final temp for altitude?? I live in Denver.
    Thanks…love, love, love your site..and voted for you in the contest!!!!

    1. Thanks, Carla! And yes, the same rules of syrup-making apply here. For every 1,000 feet you are above sea level, lower the temperature by two degrees. Have fun!

      – Joe

  2. Hi Joe,
    I just made this today for the chocolate mousse and I have two quick questions.
    First, It tasted kind of ‘eggy’ to me (Note: I do not eat soft yolks when i eat eggs. I find the taste unpleasant). Once I incorporated it into the mousse I could no longer taste it but from reading the other comments that you eat it straight from the bowl, Im not sure if its just a palate thing or if I did something wrong?
    Secondly, there were a few egg strings left on my bowl. Any idea on what I did there?
    Thank you!

    1. Hey Mariana!

      When you say “egg strings” you mean the chalazae…those little white things? Or streaks of unincorporated egg?

      As for the “eggy” taste, that’s on purpose. This stuff does taste distinctly eggy, so if yolks tend to bother you, I can see why you didn’t like it by itself.

      – Joe

        1. Hm. That’s interesting. It’s not a problem per se. However with all that beating you still had unincorporated egg, eh? The only thing I can advise is to produce the rubber spatula and scrape, scrape, scrape.

          – Joe

  3. Hi Joe ,

    I’m from Europe,so I’m little bit confused by measurement 🙂 I want to make cake with your chocolate mousse in baking pan/mold 26cm so I’m not sure how much pate a bomb do I need for my mousse? please help ,thank you

    p.s love you work

        1. Hello Selma!

          Half of one recipe of pâte a bombe is enough for a double recipe of chocolate mousse…and that’s quite a bit! I think that will be sufficient! Best of luck with your project!

          Cheers,

          – Joe

          1. Hi Joe.

            Thank you very much for your quick answer,I will try like you said with half pate a bombe and let you know how it went :))

            Cheers.
            Selma

          2. Hi Joe,

            I made it and it was delicious.Perfect rich mousse.I made mousse with milk chocolate and maybe 100 grams dark chocolate just to break that sweetness…I had cookie crust,layer of caramel with crushed almonds in it,your perfect mousse and at the end chocolate ganache.Thank you for great recipe and useful advices.
            Cheers
            -Selma

          3. Fabulous, Selma! Terrific improvisation…crushed almonds…wow. Thanks so much for sharing the ideas with me.

            Cheers and Merry Christmas,

            – Joe

  4. Hi Joe!
    Am a big fan of yours! Good recipes.
    Have one wonder thou.
    I’m doing a big batch of the pâté á bombe and put in in the freezer but ater a couple of days it starts to almost seperate.. (Not fluffy, rather “creamy” like yolks being whisked just a little).

    Thanks!
    Swedish chef

    1. Hello Carl!

      And thank you very much. That’s interesting. Does it lose volume as well? Did you try re-whipping it once it came back to room temperature?

      – Joe

  5. Yes it did lose volume. No I didn’t but I think a found the reason why.
    To much water might have been a effect but also that I forgot it a… Little while in room temp because a lot to do in the restaurant.
    Thank you
    Cheers

  6. Hi Joe,

    Is the silky non-custard pastry cream that uses this on the menu on the left somewhere? If so, what is the name of it?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Deb!

      I never did put that up, did I? What I meant to do was combine the pâte à bombe with 1-2 cups of whipped cream (by folding). That’s not only a very nice pastry cream, it makes a great filling for frozen bombes and parfaits.

      – Joe

      1. Thanks Joe! Would you add any sugar to the whipping cream before whipping or is there enough sugar in the pate a bombe? Also is that 1-2 cups of cream before it’s whipped or after it’s been whipped? And is this type of pastry cream as stable as a standard pastry cream or does it start separating/weeping like whipped cream does after a day or so in the fridge? Sorry for all the questions, thanks for taking the time to help us all out.

  7. A comment and a question–I scaled this down due to lack of eggs and made 1/3 of the recipe…but I ended up with just over 6 ounces of it (rather than 8). I know I lost some of the sugar mixture to the pan, but I was surprised at the magnitude of the loss. I imagine that making the whole recipe would have about the same amount of loss, not relative, so it seems that would be more efficient. Any suggestions on how to prevent this? There were some solid crystals along the sides of the pan that I didn’t want to incorporate in for fear of “chunks,” but perhaps they would have dissolved?

    1. Hey Melanie!

      Yes, that’s something of a double-edged sword, scraping the syrup into the pan, for reasons you described. Those hardened bits only make the mixture crunchy when it should be silky (and no they really don’t dissolve unfortunately). I generally make more than I need and freeze it since it comes in quite handy. Sorry for the trouble. I’d say just cut it down by half and save — or eat — the rest.

      Cheers,

      – Joe

      1. I tried it again, this time making 2/3 of the recipe and everything turned out perfectly–I remembered a tip from a pastry class in college to have a wet pastry brush handy to redissolve the sugar crystals. I’m not sure how much that messes with the water ratio, but I ended up with a beautiful mousse for Thanksgiving, so thanks to YOU, Joe!

        1. Wonderful news, Melanie!

          Thanks so much for getting back with me and congratulations on a job well done!

          – Joe

  8. Hi just wanted to ask: if i wanted to make an fruit mousse with the pate a bombe, do you have a basic ratio of puree to pate a bombe? Also, if i want to use a fruit puree that is less watery (avocado compared to passionfruit), how will that affect the ratio? Your help is much apreciated…

    1. Hello Esther!

      I’d start with the chocolate mousse proportions: 2-1 whipped cream to pâte à bombe by weight (measure the cream out before you whip it). To complete the mousse fold in some fruit pur?e. You’ll want a base-to-pur?e ratio of at least 3-1 so the mousse doesn’t get too loose, especially if the fruit it something watery like peach. Avocado will probably work very well. For something wetter you can always add some gelatin along the way to firm it up. A teaspoon or more per cup of whipped cream works well.

      Hope this helps!

      – Joe

  9. Joe, just came across the recipe for pate a bombe and chocolate mousse and am thinking of making a triple chocolate mouse cake out of it in a couple of days for Christmas. A couple of questions. Are the measurements given in ounces volume measurements or weight measurements? If one were making an 8 inch mousse cake, would one need to incorporate some gelatin into the mousse, a thin cake base, and freeze or just refrigerate the finished product? Manh thanks!

    1. Hey Lydia!

      The two work out the same for the most part, but I use weight!

      Let me know how it turns out!

      – Joe

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