Recipe: pomegranate chocolate dessert
I thought I might find a little time to do some festive baking, but it seems that I won’t have much time this season for a variety of reasons. There has been one recipe I’ve been wanting to try out for a couple of months now ever since pomegranates arrived in our markets. Pomegranate seeds are little jewels. We have five large pomegranates sitting on our counter right now. I tend to stock up on them because Jeremy can put away quite a few. My enjoyment of pomegranate seeds increased tenfold several years ago when I learned I could EAT the crunchy center. How about that?
the glamour girl of the fruit world
PAMA had sent me a bottle of their pomegranate liqueur last month to inspire and shoehorn me out of this creative funk I’ve been wallowing in. Well, I suppose lack of time and funk are not the same thing, but I have noticed that lack of time can be an inspiration-killer. Jeremy’s immediate reaction was pomegranate martini! Oy, martinis and I have a checkered past. I thought something more tame like a dessert, was in order.
had to try making pomegranate molasses
cutting the cake bases
It’s a bit of a pomegranate extravaganza. I am not so talented as my dear Tartelette or Lemonpi that I can produce dazzling combinations of flavors to tickle the taste buds as well as the brain. I must remind myself to keep things simple to avoid the crash and burn of dessert failure. There were two things I had been wanting to try: pomegranate molasses and folding pomegranate seeds into mousse. I had been seeing pomegranate syrup/molasses all over the blogs lately.
thick, red, tart, sweet
folding seeds into white chocolate mousse
There are two versions of the dessert because aesthetically, I thought snowy white chocolate mousse dotted with brilliant glass-like pomegranate seeds would be stunning. However, as regular readers know, I cannot stand white chocolate. So we made the evil twin version with dark chocolate mousse and let me tell you, that combination of dark chocolate with tart pomegranate is the winner.
brushing simple syrup over the cake
layering the mousse over the drizzle of pomegranate molasses
As long as you keep the timing of the components in mind, it’s not that difficult (just time-consuming). The mousse should be made right before you are ready to assemble the dessert. If you make the mousse and store it in the refrigerator for later use, it will firm up and be difficult to spread or work with. After the mousse has set in the mold (after refrigeration) pour the cooled mirror liquid over it. Of course, these things never go so simply as that. My ring molds were fine. The hexagonal mold is on the shallow side and so I had to raise the mold a little around the cake to pour the mirror layer. Imagine my horror as I watched all of the liquid drain down the sides and pool at the base. I had to engineer a fix… and make another batch of pomegranate mirror.
piping into the molds
set and ready
I think part of the problem is the white chocolate mousse was too structurally weak. I’ll probably go digging through Helen’s archives for a better one or just avoid the hexagonal mold next time. The chocolate mousse is not only more stable, but it’s just the right amount of sweetness to play against that refreshingly tart pomegranate molasses. Plus, I like how the pomegranate seeds go pop in your mouth amidst that sea of creamy mousse.
unmolded and a little frustrating
here is the white chocolate version
The leftover components were unceremoniously chucked into a bowl for Jeremy to nosh on. Some cake, some soaking syrup, some molasses, and mousse. I didn’t have any mirror leftover. It’s a terrific combination without the mirror if you ever want to serve it up as a little bowl of goodness.
the superior dark chocolate version (join the dark side, it’s so much more gratifying!)
Full disclosure: I received a free bottle of PAMA pomegranate liqueur.
Pomegranate Chocolate Dessert
1/2 11×17-inch sheet of vanilla chiffon cake
10 oz. PAMA simple syrup
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
white or dark chocolate mousse
1 cup pomegranate seeds
vanilla chiffon cake
makes 2 11×17-inch sheets or 2 9×3-inch rounds (you only need 1/2 a sheet unless making 9-inch cake in which case you can cobble pieces together or use one whole sheet)
14.5 oz. cake flour
8.75 oz. confectioners sugar
6.75 oz. whole milk
6 oz. canola oil
3.25 oz. eggs
0.5 oz. baking powder (omitted at 8500 ft.)
13 oz. egg whites
9.5 oz. granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Oven 375°F. Prep pan by buttering bottom and sides. Place parchment paper in pan and butter the parchment. Sift dry ingredients (except granulated sugar) into a large bowl. Mix all ingredients (except the 13 ounces of egg whites and granulated sugar) in the large bowl until combined. Whip whites and granulated sugar to medium peaks. Fold into batter gently. Bake until set, about 20-25 minutes (18 minutes for me). Remove from oven and remove from pan. Let cool completely on a rack.
PAMA simple syrup
4 oz. water
4 oz. sugar
2 oz. PAMA liqueur
Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over high heat until the sugar dissolves. Let come to a boil. Turn off the heat and let cool. Add the PAMA liqueur.
from Closet Cooking
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 splash lemon juice
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat and let simmer until it has reduced to about 1/2 cup. ~40-50 minutes. You will want it to be slightly more fluid when hot because it thickens as it cools.
dark chocolate mousse
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup whole milk
2 oz. butter
1 egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream, cold
In a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (make sure that the bowl fits snuggly over the pan and does not touch the water), melt together the chocolate, milk, and butter. (Okay, I just throw it all into a pan and heat it gently over the burner without a water bath). Remove from the heat and let cool to lukewarm. Whisk in the egg yolk. In a mixer, whip the cream to medium peaks and fold it into the chocolate mixture. Make the mousse just before assembly.
white chocolate mousse
1 2/3 cups heavy cream
4 oz. white chocolate, chopped
Heat the white chocolate and 2/3 cup heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat, constantly stirring until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat. Let cool completely. Beat the remaining cup of heavy cream to stiff peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture. If you want it to be more fluffy, whip the whole ensemble a little more. Make the mousse just before assembly.
1 tbsp PAMA liqueur
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp gelatin
1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice (I use POM)
Place the PAMA liqueur and the water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the liquid and let is soften. Heat the juice in a small saucepan until it begins to simmer. Stir in the gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved. Let cool to near room temperature. Make the mirror last.
Assembly: Cut the cake to fit your mold(s), this will be your base. There is no precise measuring of components here. Generally a half sheet of cake will suffice for any molds 8 inches in diameter or less. I usually peel off the top crust of the chiffon cake because it interferes with absorption of the soaking syrup. If I feel the cake is too high, I’ll trim a little off the top as well. If using round molds, I like to line the inside with acetate ribbon for ease of release. Fit the cake into the base of your mold and set on parchment paper on a baking sheet. The cake should be snug in the mold. Brush the PAMA simple syrup onto the top of the cake. Do it again. Drizzle the pomegranate molasses evenly over the cake (forget about spreading it, you’ll shred the cake – too sticky). If your pomegranate molasses is too stiff, heat it up ever so briefly until it is more fluid. You don’t need to pour a lot, but you need enough so that 80% of the cake surface is colored dark red. Fold the pomegranate seeds into the mousse. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a big plain tip with the mousse and pipe it evenly over the cake (an inch or more in height). I like to slam the baking sheet down on the table a couple of times to settle the mousse and remove as many air pockets as possible. If you’re overly enthusiastic with this step, expect mousse in your hair. The white chocolate mousse was not terribly pipeable – it was more runny than the dark chocolate mousse and poured in easily. Pop the mold(s) in the freezer or refrigerator until the mousse is firm. When the pomegranate mirror is cooled to room temperature, remove the mold(s) and pour the mirror liquid over the mousse to an appropriate depth (appropriate means whatever you want). Return the mold(s) to the refrigerator until the mirror has set. Carefully unmold the dessert and garnish.