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feeling festive

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

boozy version

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
[print recipe]

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
pomegranate mirror

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.

pomegranate molasses
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
from Tartelette
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.

pomegranate mirror
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.

69 nibbles at “feeling festive”

  1. Kacey says:

    I am a huge fan of pomegranates and PAMA Liqueur. As always, your creations look beautiful. I cannot wait to try some of these myself!

  2. Phoo-D says:

    I’ll jump into the dark side any day! That is a stunning creation. I’m impressed on so many levels…and am now off to look up a dessert ‘mirror’- your pastry skills put me to shame =).

  3. Rosa says:

    That looks so gorgeous and delicious! Mmmhhh, fantastic flavor!



  4. Laura says:


  5. Chaitali says:

    Both the desserts are out of the world beautiful!
    I’ve always loved the combination of pomegranate and dark chocolate. I have to get my hands on some pomegranate liqueur so that I can make this over the winter break.
    One question did you make the garnish for the dark chocolate version? It’s stunning!

  6. Bridget says:

    Absolutely beautiful presentation. Although the martini sounds fantastic as well…

  7. Anda says:

    Wow! It looks stunning! The last photo is just amazing!

  8. Kristi says:

    Oh, that’s lovely!

  9. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets says:

    Wonderfully original and stunning styling! I’m especially enamored of the syrup dripping off the spatula. So simple and striking at the same time.

  10. Scorpio Woman says:

    This dessert is beautiful. This is so original and you’re so lucky to got a free bottle of PAMA. :)

  11. Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary says:

    I just bought some of that Pama last weekend. The were passing out samples at the booze store, lol. Now I have something else to do with it besides chug it, lol.

  12. Anita says:

    Gorgeous! Mike has turned into a pomegranate fiend as well…we’ve always got some in the fridge!

  13. Donna says:

    Very impressive presentation. I am also a big fan of pomegranates and I have been known to toss them into our salads are season long.

  14. Andrea Meyers says:

    That is absolutely stunning. The deep colors and the shapes, just all so very luscious. I’m not given to hyperbole and telling people that I’m drooling as I read posts, but I really truly am now. Wow.

  15. marianne says:

    that dark chocolate version is killing me because it looks so amazing. way to go!!

  16. baobabs says:

    omg, i am hyperventilating just looking at the step-by-step! this is absolutely stunning and I can imagine the perfect tart and sweet sensation mixing in my mouth!

  17. barbara says:

    Pretty impressive Jen. I love the dark chocolate version.

  18. Katie says:

    Wow, that all looks so pretty and professional! I love pomegranate – I’m not a HUGE fan of the crunchy bits in the seeds, but it still has an amazing (and addictive!) taste. My favourite part though? Bashing the pomegranates to get the seeds out – now THAT is good fun!

  19. Memoria says:

    Wow!!!!! Wow! Wow! Beautiful desserts. They are breathtaking!

  20. Lori says:

    And inspired you were!

  21. Diana says:

    Looks yummy!! Now, you’ve got me hooked to your blog for sure!

  22. Anna says:

    This looks fabulous! I am totally going to give this recipe a try as soon as the holiday insanity is over. Thank you for sharing

  23. Tartelette says:

    Full disclosure: my free bottle is EMPTY!!!

    This is terrible…took me no time to get through it either, on the rocks, before dinner…hmmm.

    Stunning dessert Jen! I get so giddy when you wrap things in chocolate and make mousse and hexagons and I see rhodoid sheets….happy happy…you done good :) It looks fabulous!
    (white choc. mousse based on heavy cream and choc. alone get watery fast or get grainy if the cream is too cold. I’m thinking the one in the recipe could be more stable with just some more white chocolate.)

  24. Mrs Ergül says:

    Oh my god! Work of art!! How did you do the chocolate wrap to the right size so that it fits the cake so nicely?

  25. Kristin says:

    Oh wow! I’ve been lingering near the Pomegranate liqueur, & may just grab a bottle next time. Will have to hide it from my child tho, as she will eat an entire pom at one sitting. Don’t know that she might not go for the Pama too! Pomegranate & dark chocolate…health food!

  26. tami says:


    What a faaaabulous post. So gorgeous. :)

    – t*

  27. Ciaochowlinda says:

    Wow, what a showstopper. I could see this as a special treat for Valentine’s Day too.

  28. Lauren says:

    I’m speechless. Thats beautiful.

  29. Valérie says:

    Wow, this is amazing! This is sure to wow everyone at the table!

  30. deana says:

    I’ve never seen pomogranates look so good! Gorgeous recipe and presentation. SO much for creative funks!
    A dark, mysterious nautilus shell of a dessert! Great post!

  31. Denise @ There's a Newf in My Soup! says:

    I also have 5 large pomegranates sitting beautifully in a copper bowl on my counter, and a bottle of Pomegranate liqueur, all waiting for inspiration. Thank you, and Happy Holidays!

  32. Neel | Learn Food Photography says:

    Wow!!! That is all I have to say.

    I really compliment you on the hard work and efforts you have put in this and specially to your desire to make something like this. This is absolutely amazing and loooot of work. Kudos to you and your attempts.

    How did you make the chocolate layer? Specially curving it? Can you tell us something more about it?

  33. Courtney says:

    Dark chocolate is definitely the way to go.

  34. siri says:

    Don’t you ever make something that’s ugly?

    I’m still waiting for pomegranates to make an appearance at the stores in Norway…

  35. zinnur says:

    Jen, they all look fabulous! i am also interested in the chocolate garnish. i am guessing it involves tempering. Can you maybe do a step-by-step in a future post? Thanks for your inspirational blogging.

  36. Krista says:

    Wow, oh wow. They are truly gorgeous. :-)

  37. nico says:

    very nice, for the white chocolate mousse I will add a litle bit more of white chocolate and some gelatin.

  38. peasepudding says:

    great combination and they look fabulous!

  39. Sparklee says:

    So, you don’t have to spit out the seeds? I LOVE pomegranates but I always thought you had to spit out the little pit, making them a very wonderful but ungraceful treat!

  40. Dawn says:

    Gorgeous presentation, and I’m with you on the dark chocolate vs. white. Curious whether you used the acetate ribbon to make the chocolate curl around the dark choc. version? That big curl of chocolate wrapped around the dessert is just beautiful.

  41. Madinat says:

    did you change your feed?

    i used to be able to see your whole post in thunderbird, but now i only get two lines and none of your amazing pictures!

  42. Sonya says:

    Magnifique !!!

    Ce que j’aime de ton blog c’est la stimulation que tu donnes à nos papilles :)))

  43. Jennifer says:

    These photographs are mesmerizing. I adore the flavor and texture options you explore. Cheers to pomegranate inspiration!

  44. jenyu says:

    Thanks everyone! For those of you who inquired about the chocolate spiral: The dark chocolate garnish is tempered chocolate, smeared evenly onto a strip of 3-inch wide acetate (about a foot long, although a 3-inch piece broke off). When the chocolate began to set (about 30 seconds) I twisted the acetate into a spiral and held it for a minute until the chocolate was firm then peeled the acetate off. I could probably use more practice, but it was fun to make!

    Tartelette – ha ha, weren’t we tweeting when you polished off that bottle?? :) Thanks for the tip on the white chocolate. I knew you would come to my rescue!! as always! :) hee hee xoxo

    Mrs. Ergul – totally eye-balled it!

    Zinnur – I probably won’t be step-by-step photographing how to make the spiral as that would require a photographer while I make it, or a pastry person to make it while I shoot – either way, Jeremy is neither of those :( The timing is too critical for me to shoot it on tripod by myself.

    Madinat – I haven’t changed it, but Thunderbird may have updated my RSS preferences (which is to only display a short blurb and no images).

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  48. zahra erfani says:

    Great job.
    They look so delicious. I’m gonna make both of them.

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  50. Suzuka-Self Taught Baker says:

    I LOVE this! ^-^ I’ve been trying to find new recipes for pomegranate because the only two I have don’t showcase the pomegranate flavor enough. But THIS recipe…OMG! And I have no worries about getting any of the components to work for me since my chef of a fiance says he can help me whip this up with no problems at all (I’m spoiled like that LOL). Thank you so much for the post! I can’t wait to try it!

  51. Fabiana says:

    Simply perfect!!!!!


  52. Adrienne says:

    can you substitute the liqueur for regular pomegranate juice instead??

  53. jenyu says:

    Adrienne – absolutely!

  54. Caddie says:

    Thats fantastic, and such gorgeous pics!

  55. Lani says:

    Plan on making these this weekend. How many does the recipe make? I will need 14 so should I double the recipe?

  56. jenyu says:

    Lani – do you mean for the 3-inch ring molds? If you bake an 11×17-inch sheet of cake then you should be able to get 15 circles out of it. I think the rest of the components will be okay, although it may be tight on the mirror, and *maybe* the mousse? So just ration those out. It probably won’t hurt to make extra just in case you have some that fail (there is always something that goes wrong). Good luck.

  57. Cheryl says:

    Can I make this as an actual pie using a springform pan? that way I can finish right before my guests arrive and it an set up in the fridge until dessert time? If I use parchment paper on the bottom butter the sides of the pan will it be ok when I release the pan to cut and serve? Will that work?


  58. Cheryl says:

    Also – I’m finding conflicting measurements in changing the ounces to cups – can you please send me measurements in cups? So far I think it’s 3 1/2 cups cake flour, 2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar, 2 whole eggs, 13 egg whites? That’s all I’ve found – everything else is debating fluid ounces vs ounces… and I want to get this right.

    Thanks – Cheryl :)

  59. jenyu says:

    Cheryl – you shouldn’t need to butter the sides of the springform, just run a sharp knife along the sides to release the dessert. Not sure what you mean by making a pie though? You’ll need to use a kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients. The cake recipe comes from a pastry school and they don’t measure things like flour or confectioner’s sugar in cups because the density of flours and powdered items varies whereas the weight is precise. As for eggs, there is no standard egg size, but your estimates are about correct. Good luck!

  60. Lani says:

    Thanks so much. One other question. How did you get the cake into the molds with the acetate? When I try and cut the cake with the ring it just pushes the acetate out. I’m used to doing bavarois where you cut the cake layer much smaller but yours is snug.

  61. jenyu says:

    Lani – I cut the cake with biscuit cutters (round) that are just about the right size to fit inside the acetate. I don’t recommend using the ring molds to cut the cake, they are not thin/sharp enough.

  62. Lani says:

    Jen, I did it!!! I actually pulled it off. First time I’ve worked with acetate ribbon too. There is chocolate all over the kitchen, mousse on the cabinets and floor but I did it.

    Next up – your roasted Cauliflower salad. I’m a new devotee.

    Thanks again

  63. jenyu says:

    Lani – glad to hear it and congratulations.

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  65. Holiday Baker Man says:

    What a talent!

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  67. Eden Passante says:

    Wow! The color of these is so pretty! Love pomegranate and chocolate together! So perfect!

  68. Jill Roberts @ WellnessGeeky says:

    This pomegranae chocolate dessert recipe absolutely something new for me! Looks yummy! I’m also gonna pin this post on my Pinterest board my followers will love it. Thanks for sharing!

  69. Bella Hardy @ Healthnerdy says:

    I prefer healthy food! And I’ll definitely try this pomegranate chocolate dessert. My husband would love it! Thanks for sharing!

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