Big Mary’s Mexican Bombe

Our offspring are all married and running their own households.  They all love to cook and we spend a lot of time discussing recipes and things we have made.  James went to a Mexican-themed dinner party the other evening and made an impressive meringue-based dessert called Big Mary’s Mexican Bombe.  I gather everyone went back for seconds and there was none left for breakfast!

You may wonder how the Bombe got its name.  Well one of my father’s cousins from the Hill House clan in the north of England was called Big Mary, to distinguish her from Little Mary, wife of one of her brothers who was much shorter.  Big Mary gave me this recipe which has always been a winner.  The optional cream around the sides (not shown in the photo) gives the Bombe more of a gateau look and the longer you leave it in the fridge, the more the meringues will soften into a cake-like consistency.  I know the recipe seems to have a lot of sugar in it, but with a few unsweetened raspberries on the side, it just hits the spot!

Big Mary’s Mexican Bombe

4 egg whites
250g brown sugar
2 tsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tsp water
125g caster sugar
2 Tbs water
2 Tbs water, extra
125g dark chocolate
2½ cups cream
To garnish (optional):
1½ cups cream, extra
50g praline, roughly chopped (optional)

Fresh berries to serve (optional)

Line 3 baking sheets with foil or non-stick baking paper and draw a 20 cm diameter circle on each.  Set oven to 120°C.  Whip egg whites until stiff.  Gradually beat in brown sugar and continue beating until sugar has dissolved and meringue is stiff and shiny.  Fold coffee mixture into meringue and divide amongst the foil sheets, spreading it evenly into three round discs.  Bake for 1 to 1½ hours or until crisp.  If your oven heats unevenly, swap the tins around halfway through cooking time.  A fan-forced oven helps avoid this.  Turn oven off and leave until cold.

Filling: melt chocolate and cool.  Whip cream and divide in two.  Heat sugar and water gently until dissolved.  Increase heat and cook, without stirring, swirling pan from time to time, until you have a rich caramel.  Quickly add extra cold water, being careful to protect your arm from the steam.  Swirl the pan to dissolve the caramel, then cool.

Gradually beat caramel into half the cream and fold cooled chocolate into other half.  Peel meringues from foil.  Place one on a large flat plate, flat side down.  Spread evenly with chocolate cream.  Place another meringue on top and spread with caramel cream.  Place remaining meringue on top and gently press down.  Refrigerate for several hours.

Optional garnish: An hour or two before guests arrive, whip extra cream and spread around the sides of the bombe, filling in the holes to create a smooth surface.  If liked, press roughly chopped praline into the cream.  Refrigerate until serving time.  Serve the bombe in thin slices, accompanied, if liked, by fresh berries.

Serves 12