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As sweets go, the Dutch dessert known as bossche bol, or "ball," packs a simple but scrumptious punch. A thin layer of pastry is stuffed with some whipped cream and then drenched in a layering of dark chocolate. The extreme sweetness of the whipped cream softens the bitterness of the dark chocolate — and vice-versa — in a package that is really just a baseball-sized version of the cream puff, or profiterole.
Many point to the Netherlands city of 's-Hertogenbosch, just south of Amsterdam, as the heartland of bossche bol. In that city, which is commonly referred to simply as Den Bosch, several bakeries have declared the item their specialty. Some believe a version of this dessert has been made there for more than a century, starting as a cream puff stuffed with whipped cream or custard and coated, not with dark chocolate, but instead a cocoa glaze. This version is still alive as the moorkop.
A few bakeries from the Hague to downtown Den Bosch claim to have put their own spin on it a few decades later, by bathing the whipped cream balls in a generous coating of dark chocolate. It is unclear which baker did it first. After the treat started selling in other regions, bakers all over Europe started calling the treat by its current name.
The preparation of bossche bol takes time but not too many ingredients. Balls of cream puff pastry, heavy on the eggs and butter, are baked up and stuffed with fresh whipped cream. The cream is added into a hole that is poked in the top of the ball. Then, while the pastries are cooling, melted dark chocolate is blended with some more cream and poured over the pastries, either fully submerging the balls or drizzling it over them in imperfect passes. The treats are then left to cool on a rack or in the refrigerator, at least until the chocolate has had the chance to harden firmly.
A larger version of bossche bol is the reuzenbol, which expands to the size of a softball or larger. These mammoth balls and the even smaller, golf ball-size bossche bol can be found in many Netherlands bakeries and coffee shops. They are also available in milk chocolate and white chocolate versions. A hot cup of coffee often accompanies this dessert to help the digestive system absorb the blow. A fork and knife could not hurt, either.