Several weeks ago, my very dear friend Rebecca reminded me that, thanks to Leap Year, she actually had a real birthday this year. I immediately told her that I would be there to celebrate her 8th birthday (you can do the math). Two minutes later, I remembered my evening class on February 29th.
To make it up to her, I offered to cook her a celebratory dinner. When I mentioned that a birthday dinner was not complete without a cake, Rebecca dropped a bomb on me. Correction. She dropped a bombe on me. As in a chocolate dessert bombe made of cake, mousse and ganache. It looked amazing, delicious… and a little challenging. Luckily, Rebecca saw cooking together as part of the fun, so I was off the hook for tackling this thing myself.
Fast forward to this past Saturday. I went out in the morning and picked up all of the ingredients, which mainly consisted of three types of chocolate, five eggs, heavy cream and a shiny new jelly roll pan (I considered it my party favor). The birthday girl arrived in the early afternoon and we immediately went to work.
For Part 2, the teamwork emerged as we played up our strengths. Rebecca was all about making the chocolate mousse filling, which intimidated me. Meanwhile, I was excited about forming the cake, which Rebecca wanted to avoid at all costs. We were a culinary dream team. Rebecca whipped mousse furiously for a full five minutes in an ice bath. Meanwhile, I cut the cake into strips and used them to line a Pyrex bowl:
Next, we poured the mousse into the cake lined bowl. Then we topped the mousse with more cake strips:
While the cake-mousse bowl chilled for three hours, there was plenty of gossiping, cooking and eating (dinner) to be had. Before we knew it, it was time to check on our progress. Low and behold, our work had transformed into a cake:
But two layers of chocolate does not a bombe make. Another layer of chocolate ganache was poured over top. Again, we chose to divide and conquer. I poured, and Rebecca served as taste-tester (she was the birthday girl after all).
After another hour of chilling, it was almost time for cake. Just one ingredient remained – candles. Rebecca insisted on no singing, but I insisted she at least make a wish.
Once we sliced it open, the sheer chocolate-ness of the bombe revealed itself. Rebecca was wise to suggest ice cream, and luckily I had a gallon of Penn State Creamery’s peanut butter swirl in the freezer for just such an occasion.
America’s Test Kitchen had promised us a restaurant-quality dessert and they came through. The bombe was delicious – and intense. It would be easy to overdo it on this dessert, but we managed to control ourselves.
All in all, the birthday was a success and we agreed that baking cakes together might be a new tradition. Rebecca may have had a Leap Year birthday, but I have a pretty big milestone myself this year. I guess I better starting gathering ideas now.