View From Lodi, CA: It's the Bombe—An Independence Day Ice Cream Extravaganza!!
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If you begin immediately after finishing this column, you will have just enough time to prepare a spectacular 4th of July dessert—a magnificent red, white and blue Independence Day Bombe.

The bombe is the ice cream world's ne plus ultra. Basically a sundae, the bombe is two or more flavors of ice cream frozen together in a mold.

But the bombe—a French dessert—takes more time and effort to put together than a simple sundae.

To me, summer in the San Joaquin Valley means ice cream—and a lot of it.

The fresh fruit season translates into pies, tarts and crisps to most home chefs.

But when I think about strawberries, cherries or peaches, I think ice cream. Mention plums or apricots, I say sorbet.

By actual count, I have seven ice cream makers in my house ranging from the old-fashioned hand crank style to the jumbo size that whips up six quarts of ice cream at a time. Whatever ice cream eventuality may arise, I have the equipment to deal with it.

None of my machines collect cobwebs either; I make ice cream about 325 days of the year.

I own seven books dedicated exclusively to ice cream making. Never quite satisfied, I am always tinkering with the ratio of milk to cream or the correct number of egg yolks to add to the custard base.

To my huge disappointment, the most important tool in ice cream making—the French Pot—is not available at retail.

The elusive French pot folds the ice cream into itself, keeping air out and creating a finished pint that weighs a pound instead of the 8-ounces normally found in a commercial brand.

Let's get back to our Bombe.

Remember that none of the steps are difficult but you need to allow two days from start to finish to assure a quality end product.

We'll take our lead from Auguste Escoffier, renowned French chef from 1890-1920 who preferred simpler but still elegant bombes.

According to Los Angeles Times food writer and bombe expert Charles Perry, homemade ice cream, straight from the machine, is best because it has a lighter texture. And using homemade means you can avoid the tricky step of softening and then refreezing commercial ice cream.

For the white in our red, white and blue Independence Day Bombe, prepare a vanilla ice cream custard base by heating two cups of whipping cream, 3/4-cup of milk, and 1/2-cup of sugar to a near boil. Then slowly whisk that mixture into three egg yolks until thickened.

Add 1-1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or one vanilla bean. When cool, refrigerate for at least four hours and then freeze in your ice cream maker.

Place the vanilla ice cream into your mold. Ideally, the mold you use should be metal for quicker freezing and unmolding. If you choose a mold that is too ornate, your ice cream will stick into the corners.

Freeze your vanilla ice cream at least eight hours or ideally overnight.

In the meantime, turn your attention to the red—strawberry ice cream.

Puree a cup of sliced strawberries, one cup of sugar and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Mix ½ cup of water and one cup of sugar and boil until clear.

Stir eight egg yolks, the strawberry mixture and the sugar syrup over medium heat until thickened. Then cool and fold into 1 1/3 cups of whipping cream that you have beaten to stiff peaks.

Process the strawberry base in your ice cream maker.

When completed, layer the strawberry ice cream on top of the frozen vanilla already hardened in your mold. Cover it with plastic wrap and freeze overnight, if possible.

About an hour before you are ready to serve your masterpiece, unmold the bombe by dipping it briefly in hot water and invert it onto a plate.

Cover the bombe with blueberries. Then return it to the freezer for about half an hour to harden again.

Place six or eight red candles on the top of the bombe, light them and dazzle your guests.

Bombes can be tricky so you need to keep your cool, advises Perry.

Everything you use should be as cold as possible. Place your mold, spoons, and spatulas into the freezer the night before you use them.

Unmolding is critical. Dipping the bombe in warm water introduces the possibility of water sloshing into your bombe. If you are uncertain, wrap warm towels around the mold to help release it.

As I said, the bombe is work—remember, it is a French creation.

But whether the main course is franks or filets, your guests will walk away talking about your Independence Day Bombe.



I have finally found an occupation that is not in danger of being outsourced—ice cream maker.

While I am loath to recommend commercially prepared ice cream, I do have two good suggestions.

If you want to treat yourself or a special person, Graeter's will next day air its famous ice cream—made by the French Pot system—in six or twelve pint quantities.

And although it does not ship to the mainland, I also recommend Tropical Dreams Ice Cream from Hilo, Hawaii.

I cannot say whether Tropical Dreams or its sister company Hilo Homemade Ice Cream uses the French Pot. But the end product is indescribably delicious.

On a recent trip to Tropical Dreams headquarters, I talked ice cream with the gracious owners.

And the last thing I did on my Big Island vacation was to shovel down more Tropical Dreams at the airport…mango sorbet as I recall.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.

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