Making a Frozen Bombe

A classic bombe is made from pig iron and gunpowder ice cream and sponge cake. However the filling need not be ice cream to still qualify as a frozen bombe. Here I’m using frozen mousse for the interior which is an easier thing for the home cook to produce, even though it is a little extra rich. (Not always a bad thing).

Bombes almost always have at least two flavors of chilled/frozen filling in the interior. As you’ll see from how I put this together, adding layers is easy…two, three, four, whatever! All you need are round forms or bowls of different sizes. Since I’m going to do two flavors, I have two round molds here: an 8-cup bombe mold and a 3-cup. So what’s that extra cereal bowl there for?

A stand.

Here I’m filling the bigger of the two forms with a double batch of chocolate mousse. Nice so far, no?

Now I’m inserting the smaller of the bowls and pressing down until the mousse comes up almost all the way toward the lip.

Smooth it out a little. OK! Done…freeze that at least 8 hours. Overnight is better.

What…morning already? I don’t feel like I slept at all. Oh well. Take your frozen mold out and pour tepid water into the smaller mold to help it release. Give it a twist with both hands and…

…THERE she goes.

Now just do a little smoothing around that lip…

…and fill the center with your next filling. This is a mint white chocolate mousse, but a fruit mousse like raspberry would be stellar here, as would pistachio. This particular bombe is Kentucky Derby-themed.

Smooth it out so it’s roughly even. Now return the whole thing to the freezer while you attend to your cake layer(s).

Here I have a sheet of flourless chocolate bombe base. Also a cardboard cake round. As it happens an 8″ round is there perfect size an 8 cup mold. We’ll cut one circle here:

And one here:

Using a serrated knife cut the sheet in two…

…then make cuts all the way around.

At this point you can add another flavor dimension with a little cake syrup. This is simple syrup with some Kentucky bourbon added to it (remember the Derby theme).

Retrieve the bombe and top it with the cake layers (bottom upward), trimming them a little to fit if need be. Now put the cake circle on the top and put the whole thing in the freezer. Again, overnight is ideal.

Wow the days are just flying by, aren’t they? Is it Friday already? Fill a large bowl with warm water.

Here I’m dipping the bombe in it almost up to the rim. You want to let it sit maybe fifteen or twenty seconds before you try to get it to release.

Set it on a rack, jiggle it some and…

…schloop! Out it comes. If it’s being stubborn just dip it again. A couple of gentle raps of the rim on a counter are OK too, just make sure you’re supporting the bottom!

Smooth out any unevenness with an icing spatula.

Store it in the freezer until you’re ready to apply your glaze. Pour it on the very center and let it run down, you’ll be surprised at how well the glaze covers with just one shot.

Let the bombe set up for at least ten minutes. At that point you can serve it or return it to the freezer until you’re ready to serve. I should mention that you can also simply store it in the refrigerator and let it thaw before serving. It’ll take about two hours. Chilled, the mousse will hold its shape just fine. Slice and serve!

28 thoughts on “Making a Frozen Bombe”

  1. Any man that can make something like that can’t be all bad, despite what they say.

    just perfect! I definitely shall not be showing my wife this, else I’ll have yet another thing I have to make from your blog 😉


    1. Hey thank y—huh?

      Oh so that’s how it is, is it. Just for that I’m telling your wife!

      – Joe

  2. Oh, man, that looks stunning! I will be thinking of those flavors and textures. It is really beautiful – how did it taste?

    1. Hi Dianne!

      You know, all the Continental baking I’ve done over the years has made me less of a fan of rich desserts, but I have to say this wasn’t as rich or filling as I was expecting, and was completely delicious. The mint mousse was very light but full of mint flavor, and just the right amount to marry with the denser chocolate. RLB’s flourless cake base balanced the whole thing beautifully.

      We Chicagoans (former Chicagoan in my case) remember Frango mints, chocolate mint candies made by Marshall Field’s. They were silky and addictive. This was like a big one of those, though colder and even smoother. I recommend it highly. I served it as a closer to a porch party and it was a show stopper. The nice thing is that none of the steps are very hard and you can spread them out over four days or more.

      I didn’t get a great shot of a slice…the one above is a little ragged. Mrs. Pastry showed me up by running a chef’s knife under hot water between each cut. Hers were perfect! Just goes to show you…the misses always knows better.

      – Joe

    1. Hey Faith!

      This is a great time to practice your technique — make two! 😉

      – Joe

  3. Wow! That looks gorgeous. Both mousse (mousses?) looks so light and airy and the topping shines like polished glass. How’d it taste; good balance, too minty, too chocolately? Is there such a thing as too chocolatey? I will be giving this a try soon as it looks just perfect as a warm weather dessert. Thanks, Joe.

    1. Hey Susan!

      Meece, I think it is. See the above comment for more on what I thought of the taste. Suffice to say that while I tend to be obsessive and hyper-critical I have nothing bad to say about this (save for my slicing technique). You’ll love it.

      – Joe

      1. Speaking of slicing technique, what are your recommendations for getting those photo-ready slices that aren’t all mangled and smeared?

        1. Hey Rainey! I think letting the bombe thaw at least part of the way in the fridge will be a big help. That will cut down on the rigidity of the mouse. Part of the reason Mrs. Pastry’s slice came out so perfectly is because she did it after the bombe had been sitting out about 20 minutes. So…temperature is the key with that.

          – Joe

  4. I used to live near a gourmet ice cream shop that sold beautiful bombes. Moving to the area, that was the first time I’d ever seen one, and I always marveled at how they were constructed. I feel pretty clever now that you’ve shown us (although you do make it look so easy)!

  5. Oh man does that look good! I love chocolate with mint, and chocolate with bourbon and the idea of them all together has me ready to try this tout suite.

    1. Let me know how yours goes. It was a big hit with my weekend guests!

      – Joe

  6. We now expect one in seasonal colors for every holiday!
    Can you do something with a rainbow flag? lol

    1. Hey, all I need is a set of 7 nesting bowls, a week to work, and I’m golden.

      Nice idea, Paul!

      – Joe

    1. Hey Linda! Just click on the links in the post, you’ll find recipes for everything!

      – Joe

  7. Hi Joe,
    2 questions:
    Do you use freeze the cake, then cut it frozen or defrosted, or bake it that day and just let it cool.
    Also, can you offer any thoughts on making pistachio mousse?
    I am making this bombe for my boyfriends birthday next week!

    1. Hi Sarah!

      I like working with frozen cake since it’s rigid and doesn’t compress under a knife. You can do that or work with it the same day, as long as you have a good serrated knife. Regarding a pistachio mousse, I have this recipe but haven’t tried it yet:

      2 ounces pâte a bombe
      3 ounces pistachio paste
      1 1/4 teaspoons gelatin
      3 tablespoons cold water
      1 ounce heavy cream
      7 ounces heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

      Combine the pate a bombe and pistacio paste. Combine the gelatin and water and let sit 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whip the cream. Melt the gelatin in the microwave with 1 ounce of heavy cream, zapping it on high for 5 seconds, then another 5 seconds. Quickly whisk it into the whipped cream, then whisk the whole mixture into the pistachio mixture.

      Have fun!

      – Joe

      1. Hi Joe,
        I have really enjoyed your site for a while, and have learned a lot from it. Thanks for all your work!

        Two questions. How much pistachio mousse does this recipe make? I’m trying to make enough to form a pistachio mousse layer in a cake.

        Also, by pistachio paste, do you mean sweetened, and semi-runny like the kind that comes in a jar from Sicily, or something unsweetened, or something more like a marzipan?

        Thank you.

  8. Great post! I was wondering though, if I could cover the mousse with the same cake. want to make a replica of angry bird actually for my son. How can that be done?

    1. Hello Vrushali!

      Covering a bombe with cake can be done. The process would be similar to making a charlotte royale:

      You could cut the cake into large pieces (fat triangles) and lay them into the plastic-lined mold. However I think you might have a better result if you used white chocolate mousse instead of a standard chocolate mousse as the outside layer, then covered the whole thing with melted white chocolate that you’d colored with red food coloring. Or you could forget the glaze entirely and color the mousse itself with red food coloring. That might be the simplest of all. What do you think?

  9. Hello Joe,

    Thanks for while chocolate suggestion. Actually, here in Hong Kong, they do have this bombe type cake with raspberry mouse and cover with red velvet type cake. It looks like Joconde to me but not sure. I must try it out to know more about it. White chocolate sounds great too! Will try and let you know for sure!


  10. Hi Joe! I was wondering, do you know the translation and/or history of the term “pâté a bombe”? Thanks!

    1. Hi Heather!

      I wish I could say I did. I don’t think anyone does for sure. Essentially, pâte à bombe is an egg yolk meringue, so its history likely tracks closely with egg white meringues. The origin of those is enigmatic, though many food historians think meringues originated in northern Europe…Poland perhaps…somewhere in the upper reaches of the Holy Roman Empire. Interestingly the first mention of a whipped-whites-and-sugar confection appears in print in an English cookbook from about 1600. Which means it’s at least possible that the Brits invented meringues. But who really knows?

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

      – Joe

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