Ed wanted chocolate bombes for his birthday, and this is what we came up with. I'm warning you, this is an intense dessert. One hemisphere is plenty, and the whipped cream really helps to cut the heavy chocolate. It's a chocolate meringue hemispherical shell, filled with dark chocolate mousse, sealed with a chocolate meringue disk, enrobed in a milk chocolate glaze. I think next time I'd do a milk chocolate mousse with a semisweet chocolate glaze to cut down the intensity just a bit.
There are a few components for these chocolate bombes, but you can easily spread the work over a few days if necessary. And they were great! If you need a little pep talk first before attempting something a little more complicated, then I highly recommend Julia Child's book, My Life in France. I read it a month or so ago, and it was truly inspirational. Julia was in her late 30's when she began taking culinary classes at the Cordon Bleu in France; she was almost 50 when her masterpiece Mastering the Art of French Cooking was finally published after 10 years of hard work. She was meticulous in her research and with her recipes, really makes you believe that you can do anything with enough practice.
This book meant so much to me that I really want you to read it too (plus I really want to meet some of you, my stats counter keeps telling me you're really out there, now's your chance to prove it!). So I'm giving away a brand new copy! I hope that reading about her experiences inspires you too, or at least gets you in the kitchen. Just leave a comment below between now and Monday December 21st at 11:59pm EST, and tell me what inspires you these days - in the kitchen, at work, or maybe just in your daydreams... (sorry, only open to North American residents.) Tweet about the giveaway and leave a link in the comments for a second entry. Or leave a comment on a previous blog post for another entry.
You'll need hemisphere molds to make the bombes as pictured. I have these. If you don't have molds, you could try making meringue/mousse stacks or sandwiches (make the meringue disks as indicated, and pipe layers of mousse between meringue disks; glaze).
Unglazed chocolate bombes
Recipe: Makes 6 2.75" chocolate bombes.
For the meringue:
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
Preheat the oven to 200F.
Beat the whites on mediums speed with the whisk attachment of your stand mixer (or hand mixer). When the whites begin to form soft peaks, increase the speed to high and slowly add the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating to stiff peaks
Place the powdered sugar and cocoa in a medium bowl, and stir together with a whisk or fork until thoroughly combined. Gently shake the cocoa/sugar mixture over the whites, and fold until just combined.
Fill a decorating bag with the meringue, and use a plain tip 1/2" wide (or just cut a 1/2" hole in the bag). Pipe the meringue into the molds (6 hemispheres, with 2.75" diameter). If the meringue is stiff enough, you can pipe the meringue along the shell of the hemisphere mold; otherwise fill the shell about half-way and use a spoon to gently spread the meringue over the whole mold. You want about a 1/4" thick layer over the whole mold.
With a pen or pencil, trace six 2.75" circles (or whatever diameter circles your hemishpheres are) on a sheet of parchment paper. Flip the parchment paper over (you should still be able to see the circles), and pipe meringue disks onto the circles. Start in the center of the circle and work outward.
Place the hemisphere mold on a baking sheet and bake the hemispheres and disks for about 2 hours until completely dry and crisp. Store in a dry, airtight container for up to three days; or store in the freezer.
Meringue Disks (for the bottom of the bombes)
For the mousse:
6 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet or milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup heavy cream
Additional heavy cream to whip for garnish.
Place the chocolate in a medium-size bowl. Throw in a pinch of salt (maybe 1/4 teaspoon). Add the vanilla extract.
Bring 1/2 cup heavy cream to a boil. Pour it into the bowl of chocolate. Let sit for one minute. Then stir until smooth. Alternatively, pour the chocolate into the pan of cream (off heat), and stir until smooth.
Whip the remaining 1 cup cream to firm peaks. Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream.
You'll have extra mousse. Enjoy now, or freeze for later.
Plated Chocolate Bombe
For the milk chocolate glaze: (adapted from Payard)
4 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
Place the chocolate and corn syrup in a medium bowl. Bring the cream to a boil, and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for one minute, then stir until smooth.
Unglazed bombe - upside down
Fill the bombes with the chocolate mousse. Use a knife to level it off, and carefully place one meringue disk over the mousse. Be very careful, as the meringues are delicate. Freeze for at least an hour. Move the bombes to the fridge about an hour or two before serving (you can serve straight from the freezer if you want the meringue to retain its crispness, but I like it a little softer).
When ready to serve, pour milk chocolate glaze over the bombes, and serve with whipped cream.
The schmaltzy version