So, Let's Make This Bombe-shell of a Cake

December 20, 2017

It’s a given that we all need a repertoire of easy-to-make cakes and desserts that look and taste like we really know our way around the kitchen—even if the dessert in question is ten times easier than pie, and took just a few minutes to make.

But we also need a few holiday showstoppers up our sleeves—even if they involve several parts and a little know-how in putting them all together. One of my favorites is Cranberry Christmas Bombe—a riff on the French Charlotte Royale. It’s glamorous and gorgeous and definitely centerpiece-worthy.

It can be done in stages. Photo by Bobbi Lin

The bombe looks seriously complicated—and I love that about it—but is easier to make than it looks. The recipe's many parts can be staged over time, so that you only need a few minutes to unmold and glaze the bombe on the day you serve it. You can swap the cranberry-raspberry spread for 2/3 cup of any fruit preserves that you think would taste good with the mousse inside, or you can use lemon curd or sweetened chestnut puree. You can swap your favorite dark or milk chocolate mousse or even lemon mousse or Bavarian cream—the original Charlotte Royale was filled with Bavarian cream, after all—for the white chocolate mousse filling.

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A loose visual guide to the steps:

After you've baked the cake in a sheet pan, roll it carefully. Photo by Bobbi Lin

You want to use hot milk sponge cake for this, and bake it in a sheet pan.

Cut up the log into little rolls (and try not to eat them right now). Photo by Bobbi Lin
Line all of a mixing bowl with them (and don't eat the others yet). Photo by Bobbi Lin
Add the mousse of your choice. Photo by Bobbi Lin
Into the fridge you go. Photo by Bobbi Lin
Enjoy. Photo by Bobbi Lin

Once you've got the hang of lining the mold with snuggly fitting jelly roll slices, filling the lined mold with mousse, and using the remaining jelly rolls for the bottom, you can mix and match most of the elements to create your own bombe. This one is adapted from my first book (and 1990 James Beard Cookbook of the Year award winner), Cocolat: Extraordinary Chocolate Desserts. Bombes away!

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My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).