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How to build a bombe
Admit it – you always suspected there were features like this on the internet. We’re happy to oblige. But, just so you know, ours is more dark chocolate than dark web. Tuck in.
Good puds stay with you. And not in the smug ‘minute on the lips, lifetime on the hips’ mantra trotted out by people in whose company a minute can, indeed, seem like a lifetime.
No, I’m talking about the transformative, life-affirming power of a sensational sweet.
I’ll never forget the first time I sunk my fork into a melt-in-the-middle chocolate cake. It was 1996, and I was in One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow. A few tables away, Baby Spice was hunched over a Midori liqueur whispering conspiratorially to a woman from Smash Hits.
From within a spongy geodesic dome a pyroclastic flow of dark, lava-like chocolate oozed forth. I’d never seen anything like it. Now of course they’re four-for-two-quid in Iceland. Back then, when Baby Spice was young, it was little short of tectonic.
Ah, a la recherche du temps perdu, as I say every time my mum whips out her sponge fancies.
And so it is that The London Carriage Works (TLCW) has gifted me my latest madeleine moment, in the shape of its chocolate orange ‘bombe’. A glistening, bejewelled Seville, dusted with pollen seemingly brushed from the legs of passing bees. A silky scoop of sorbet its cool companion.
The chocolate orange is the brainchild of TLCW’s Head Pastry Chef, Dave Butterworth. It’s the sort of creation that’s so perfectly formed and right. You can’t imagine the world before it. Like Bridge Over Troubled Water, Velcro or Spanx.
I ate it with my dining partner – without so much as a single Spice Girl present – and yet, within just five minutes, two became none.
Dave’s a Devon lad who trained with two Michelin-starred Michael Caines (that’s one Michael Caines with two stars. Not two cockney actors with one each), while he was at Gidleigh Park. And it’s here where his bombe was first ignited.
“We used to do a chocolate mousse with a liquid centre and orange zest,” he says. “I did that here, but I started seeing how some chefs were using fruit moulds. Limes, lemons...so I thought about using an orange mould.”
Trouble was, they didn’t exist. Dave had to make his own. As you will too, if you want to make an orange bomb at home. That and about a million other steps. Like clockwork, you could say.
TLCW’s Chocolate Orange
1) Find a particularly beautiful Seville orange.
2) Buy some food grade silicone putty. Blue and white, naturally.
3) Mix them together, roll out and stick an orange on it. Wrap the putty around it, and whack it in the fridge.
4) When it sets, cut the bottom off and pop the orange out. Voilá - you’ve got a perfect impression of an orange, complete with that puckered skin.
5) Get a box of 30 oranges. Score each of them, top to bottom, ten times. Go in deep, so that you pierce all the way through the pith, all the way around.
6) Plunge them in cold water. Bring up to the boil. Refresh them in cold water until the orange is cold again.
7) Repeat ten times. Consider whether it would be quicker to defrost the Vienetta left over from Christmas instead.
“Boiling ten times takes the bitterness out of the pith, and gives an intense and complex depth of flavour,” Dave says.
8) Next, cook the oranges in syrup at a low temperature for up to six hours. Never let the mixture boil. You want it low and slow.
“From this we make the confit, by puréeing the oranges. This will make the filling, and the sorbet,” Dave says.
9) Pipe the purée into circle moulds, then freeze them.
10) Now it’s on to the chocolate mousse. “You don’t want one with lots of sugar,” Dave says. “You need it to freeze. I use a sabayon (it’s an Italian, custardy method. Lots of eggs).”
11) You’ll fill the orange moulds with this unguent choccy froth, pop your orangey pellet inside, and freeze it at minus 20 until it’s solid.
Still with us? Good.
12) Now take some orange-flavoured chocolate, melt it, grab a skewer and dip your frozen chocolate orange into it.
13) Let the newly-cloaked orange set on a tray. Then head into your garden shed. Have a little moment to yourself pondering on life’s missed opportunities. Then grab that spray gun you bought when you were going to varnish the fence.
14) Load the gun up with the melted orange chocolate, and spray it over your chocolate orange to give the skin a lovely velvety texture.
15) “To get the porous, moist look, I then take a boiling apricot jelly glaze and spray that onto the chilled orange, and it sets in tiny spheres as it hits the cold shell, like little drops of dew,” says Dave.
16) Press a mint leaf into green-coloured marzipan to make the orange leaf.
17) Be carried aloft through your newly fitted bi-fold doors on a sedan chair, and demand to be called the Queen of happy endings. For the afternoon.
“End to end, this would take you around three days,” Dave says.
Then again, you could pop into The London Carriage Works and we’ll get one out to you quicker than it is to say Orangeboom, Orangeboom, it’s a lager not a tune. One for the kids, there.
For his summer menu, Dave has done something delicious with coconut, dark and milk chocolate. Think about what would happen if a Bounty Bar went to a finishing school, and had a summer fling with a Twix on a gap year. It’s a bit like that.
“It’s three layers, with a biscuit base, with a coconut ganache, dark chocolate mousse, chocolate caviar balls, coconut puree and lime sugar dusted on the side,” he says.
See you in summer.