bombe

bombe [bom, bomb] noun

A frozen dessert molded in a smooth-sided or decorative pan. The originals were round and smooth and resembled bombs, hence their more specific name – bombe glacé. While they were developed in France, bombes are popular in many cuisines. The common approach is to layer several complementary flavors of ice cream and/or frozen parfaits, usually of different colors to provide the visual appeal as well. Very often there will be a few outer layers of ice cream, but a slightly softer frozen parfait in the center – this mixture being made up of whipped egg whites or yolks with cooked sugar syrup and flavoring (liqueur, fruit purée, minced candied fruit, etc.). Whipped cream is added after cooling and the mixture is then packed into the mold. Sometimes a thin layer of sponge cake is added to the open side of the bombe upon unmolding to provide a base; this also prevents the bombe from slipping around on a platter.

Classic bombes have specific names, such as bombe Bourdeloue, which is comprised of vanilla ice cream and anisette-flavored parfait. It is often decorated with candied violets and was named after Rue Bourdaloue in Paris, where the pastry shop and chef who invented the dish resided. The dish dates to the Belle Époque period. Here is a quote from the 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking (Bobbs-Merrill Co.) where Irma Rombauer is extolling her families love of bombes:

“In our family, a richly loaded bombe, even more than a churned ice cream, betokened festivity – the burst of glory that topped off a party dinner. Fancy molds [in an included photo] … were reserved for these occasions. We children always hoped they might be chilled in the backyard, under snow: what fun finding them!” Note that the fancy mold shapes she refers to depict a “proud rooster,” a melon (a ridged half-sphere) as well as a decorative round mold that is vaguely shaped like a crown.

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