Saturday, October 15, 2005

Experimenting with Pomegranates

I've been trying to come up with dessert ideas using pomegranates for a Turkish blog event. Here are a couple of pictures, the recipes will follow. This proved challenging for me. I ended up making a cake and a ricotta cream using both pomegranate seeds and juice. I then tried to create different desserts using these 2 building blocks. I must say that I was not too pleased with my results, as the pomegranate taste was not as evident in any of the below as I would like. However, my son loved the second serving suggestion at first bite and has been asking me to make that crunchy dessert ever since. Since he is usually very picky about what he eats, I should consider this an indication of success.

Pomegranate Pound Cake

I used this recipe I found on the Internet and threw in some shelled pistachios, orange zest and orange flower water for good measure. The result was definitely tasty, but not as colorful as I anticipated since the pomegranate seeds lost their bright color during baking.

Ricotta Cream with Pomegranate Juice

This was adapted from a similar recipe in The Book of Desserts by Sally Taylor.
  • 1 c ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • 3 tbs pomegranate juice
  • 1 1/4 c whipping cream
  • 2 egg whites
Line 5 molds with double thickness of cheesecloth. Press cheese through a sieve, and mix 2 tbs sugar and pomegranate juice. In a separate bowl, whip cream until stiff. Stir into cheese mixture. Whisk egg whites until stiff with 1 tbs sugar and fold it into the cheese mixture. Spoon the ricotta cream into the lined molds and refrigerate overnight to drain. To serve, unmold and remove the cheesecloth carefully.

Serving Suggestion #1

I layered ricotta cream, pomegranate seeds and shelled pistachios in a cup. Then I topped it with an orange juice based gelled topping and more pomegranate seeds.

Serving Suggestion #2.

I layered cake rounds and cream in a small mold and topped it gelatin and pomegranate seeds as in Serving Suggestion #1. I would have liked to serve it with a pomegranate sauce, but what you see in the picture is a raspberry sauce.

Serving Suggestion #3

This one is Mehmet's favorite. It is basically the ricotta cream topped with pomegranate seeds.

Serving Suggestion #4

This one is a mini charlotte. The accompanying picture explains how I made it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Easy Tarte Tatin

The first time I had Tarte Tatin, I decided that I must learn to make it myself. That was more than 10 years ago. I am really not sure why it took me so long to actually make it, but it may partly be that the recipes I had were somewhat involved. Stranded at home today with only a couple of apples for fruit, I was considering my options for a fast dessert. The puff pastry package in the freezer inspired me to finally make Tarte Tatin; an easy version that is. Luckily, an Internet search yielded a myriad of recipes for it, and I used the first one of these. The recipe suggested serving the tart warm with vanilla ice cream, but since we were short on some of the required ingredients, we had to settle for whipped cream which was also a very good accompaniment.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Mocha Pecan Torte

We entertained about 100-120 of our friends on Saturday. Yes, we do like to do things in a grand scale, and no, it was not in our house since it surely would not accomodate this number of guests. The dessert we served was Mocha Pecan Torte from Alice Medrich's Cocolat. Since this is a dense torte best served in thin slices, eight tortes were enough to feed a crowd of this size. It was quite a hectic day, and the only chance I had to take pictures was earlier in the day when the tortes were still in their springform pans. I will just have to make this dessert again some time soon, and replace the picture above with a better one. This is one of my favorite Cocolat recipes, packed with pecans and topped with Mocha glaze. And although I am not a coffee drinker, I love the way it pairs with pecans and chocolate in this dessert.
  • 6 oz chocolate (preferably bittersweet) cut into pieces
  • 6 oz butter, cut into pieces ( I accidentally used 4 ounces of butter, and it worked just fine)
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 c ground pecans
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • Mocha Glaze (recipe below)
  • 1 oz white chocolate, chopped if you plan to marble the glaze
  • 1/2 chopped toasted pecans for the sides
Preheat oven to 350F. Line bottom of 9-inch pan with waxed paper. Combine butter and chocolate and melt using your method of choice. Beat egg yolks with 1/2 c sugar until thick and light colored. Stir in the chocolate, ground pecans and flour. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks start to form. Then increase the speed and gradually add the remaining 1/4 c sugar until stiff peaks start to form. Fold about 1/4 of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture to lighten the batter. (If your chocolate mixture is too thick by this time, you can put your bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until it becomes more managable.) Then add the rest of the egg whites quickly. Turn it into prepared pan and bake for about 40-45 minutes. The sides should have set and the center should still show moist crumbs when plunged with a toothpick or wooden skewer. Cool the cake in its pan. It will have risen and fallen with some possible cracking of the crust. Remove the sides and unmold the torte. I like to serve it bottom side up, and definitely level it to prepare for glazing. It can be wrapped and stored at this stage for 3 days or frozen up to 3 months. It actually tastes better when made at least 1 day ahead. Onced glazed, do not refrigerate it because the glaze will lose its lovely sheen. You can marble the top with white chocolate when the glaze is still wet, and press the chopped pecans on the sides to decorate.

Mocha Glaze

I am giving you the amount Alice gave in the book for a 8"-10" torte. But I must add that we always have quite a bit left when I am done with glazing. Needless to say, nobody complains. You can always remelt the glaze and use it in a different project. I used semisweet chocolate although Alice says milk chocolate works better with coffee.
  • 1o oz milk chocolate, cut into tiny bits
  • 3/4 c heavy cream
  • 1 tbs light corn syrup
  • 1 tbs plus 1 tsp powdered instant coffee, dissolved in a few drops of water
Put heavy cream and light corn syrup in a pan and bring to simmer. Add the coffee and stir to mix. Take off the heat, add the chocolate and stir until it is smoothly melted. Use at 100F to glaze your torte.