Today I’d like to introduce you to Pomegranate Meringue Tarts. Silky, tart and sweet pomegranate curd atop a spicy chocolate ganache in a flaky, buttery crust, topped with mountains of fluffy, toasted meringue!
About a month ago, I was contacted by POM Wonderful, the makers of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice, among several other pomegranate products made exclusively from their own orchard grown pomegranates in California, asking me if they could send me some of their pomegranate juice to sample. Naturally, I couldn’t pass this up, especially since I’d never tried bottled pomegranate juice before, and I LOVE pomegranates. I use the seeds aka arils quite a bit in my baking and cooking, not to mention they’re a tasty snack that’s good for you.`However, pomegranates are currently not in season..but I’ll get to that in a moment.
They sent me a case of eight of the cutest little bottles (see below – coochy coochy coo!) kept cold with an ice pack. I immediately guzzled one bottle and was blown away by how tasty it was. Think cranberry juice with an undertone of plum (according to J), but even better than that. It’s hard to explain, but J had to remove the case from my arms before I guzzled every bottle!
Photo of pomegranate is not mine, explained a few paragraphs down, and POM juice bottles straight from the fridge, hence the lack of ruby translucency of the juice in the bottle.
Here’s the best part; this juice is SO good for you, and that’s an understatement. It’s loaded with antioxidants, which do amazing things for your general health and body. So, what did I decide to do? Load it with sugar, eggs, butter and pair it with chocolate and even more sugar, eggs and butter in a super flaky, gluten-laden crust! Whoohoo, let’s turn this amazingly healthy juice into fat and clogged arteries!
Ahem..that said, although I used some of the juice to make glazes for chicken, shrimp and pork, this preparation was by far my favorite. First I checked out the POM Wonderful site to see if their recipes contained anything similar to this because, well, they’ve got what seems like a gazillion recipes for anything and everything you could imagine, using pomegranate juice.
I was originally going to try a noodle kugel, but they’d already done that; WTH, noodle kugel too?? Then flan, but nope, they’d come up with a great recipe for that too. Again, WTH? Is there anything that can’t be made with pomegranate juice? Can you pour pomegranate juice on your cereal too?
After perusing through all gazillion (yummy looking) recipes, I realized I would have to go a little bit outside the box. Yes, just a little, since anything meringue pie or tart(s) aka tartlets aka tartelettes..whatever, has been created and covered endlessly in the past two centuries. However, I’d never seen nor tasted a pomegranate meringue pie! How about one with a spicy chocolate ganache layer underneath the curd? Now we’re getting somewhere!
Of course there was a little problem to address; pomegranate curd doesn’t set up well without the addition of some kind citrus juice. Making a pure pomegrante curd could be possible thanks to the advice from uber pastry extraordinaire, Tri2Cook, with the addition of a little gelatin. You could use cornstarch, tapioca flour, or arrowroot, but I wanted to stay away from those kind of thickeners, hoping I could do it with just eggs/egg yolks and butter, like you would with a basic lemon curd.
According to Tri2Cook, a small amount of gelatin would in no way affect the smooth, silky curd I was seeking by turning it into a gelee, or even worse – JELLO. Regardless, I felt I had to add some citrus juice to insure it would set up, but just a little, so the flavor of pomegranate wasn’t overpowered by the citrus (lemon juice in this case).
Now that I had my tartlets planned out, I was missing one component, pomegranate seeds/arils! Geez, when these babies are not in season, trying to find frozen pomegranate or pomegranate seeds is like trying to find a birth control pill in the Duggar household. So, unless you order them from POM Wonderful, it’s fruitless (pun intended). SO, let’s pretend there are pomegranate seeds/arils in the curd and sprinkled over and around the tartlets for presentation! We shall call them Phantom Pomegranate Seeds aka arils, k? “OH, look at those gorgeous ruby seeds/arils cascading over the meringue in my photos!” (wink wink)
Honest to god, I almost used pink peppercorns in hopes that no one would notice.
Speaking of persona non pomegranata, the lovely photo of the pomegranate above is NOT MINE, because as mentioned above, I didn’t have a pomegranate to photograph. I found it in a forum and liked it more than others I’d seen. Unfortunately, the photo was not credited since the person who posted it didn’t take it, SO, if this is YOUR PHOTO, please email me and I’ll credit the photo to you.
Having said all that, I love these tarts. You get such a bounty of flavors and textures with each bite. From the top down, you go from melt in your mouth sweet, to silky, crunchy/juicy (Remember, Phantom Pomegrante Seeds aka arils!) and tart, to rich and spicy, IF you add cayenne to the chocolate ganache layer. If not, then we’ll just say rich, dense and chocolatey. Let’s not forget the crust, so add buttery and flaky to that equation! If you close your eyes and take a bite, you immediately think ‘lemon meringue’ because of the tartness of the pomegranate, but there’s a much fruitier-berry depth to it, and adding pomegranate seeds would multiply that depth.
Forget pomegranate juice on your cereal; try these tarts instead.
Pomegranate Meringue Tarts
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup ice water plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter, cut up
- ⅛ - ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 cup POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice
- Half a lemon, juiced
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 egg yolks *
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
- ½ teaspoon powdered gelatin
- 1 tablespoon POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice
- 1-2 tablespoons grenadine, for color
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
- 6 large egg whites
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Place flour and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add butter to flour mixture, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 20 seconds. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks and ice water until combined. Pour egg mixture through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, with the machine running. Process just until dough holds together, no more than 30 seconds.
- Turn dough out onto a clean work surface, then scrape it onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Gently pat it into disk. Wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place six 4-inch tart rings or molds on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out pate sucree to ⅛ to ¼ inch thick. Cut out six 6-inch circles of dough with a sharp paring knife, using a 6-inch round cutter or an overturned 6-inch bowl as a guide. Press dough into tart rings; trim excess with a sharp knife. Dock tart shells by piercing the bottom all over with a fork. Transfer to the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.
- Cut out six 6-inch parchment paper circles, and line rings; fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the edges begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and carefully remove parchment and beans. Return to oven, and continue baking until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes more. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Carefully remove tart shells from tart rings, and set aside.
- Place chocolate in medium bowl. Pour heavy cream into heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for about a minute. Add cayenne and whisk until smooth. Stir in butter until combined and uniform. Let cool for about 5 minutes.
- Pour about 2 to 3 tablespoons of ganache into each tart shell, dividing any extra ganache evenly between the tarts.. Cover each tart with plastic wrap and let set in the fridge.
- In a small heat proof bowl or cup, sprinkle gelatin over the tablespoon of pomegranate juice and let sit until softened. When ready to add to curd, place cup or bowl it's in in simmering water until the gelatin is completely melted, dissolved and smooth. or just nuke it for a second or two.
- Whisk egg yolks and salt together in a medium sized bowl. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, combine juices and sugar. Stir and heat to just below boiling.
- Pour some of hot pomegranate juice sugar mixture into the yolks, stirring constatntly so not to scramble the yolks, then pour the yolk mixture into the pot, whisking it in rapidly. Over medium heat, whisk the mixture constantly and fairly quickly until thickened (temp will be about 160 degrees F, if you're using a thermometer and it will coat the back of a spoon, enough so that you can draw a line through it with your finger, and it stays).
- Remove the pot from heat and stir in melted gelatin and then butter, a little at a time until it's all melted in. Pour the curd into a wire strainer over a bowl or large glass measuring cup (4 cup), then stir in grenadine until uniform in color, and pomegranate seeds if using. Let cool for about 15 minutes. You don't want it to melt the ganache and turn into a chocolate marbled mess! Refrigerate for those 15 minutes if need be, with plastic wrap pressed on top of the curd.
- When cool, pour curd over set ganache in each tart shell, dividing it evenly. Cover each tart with plastic wrap, pressing it on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let set in the fridge until firm.
- Place egg whites and sugar in te bowl of your stand mixture and place over a pot of of simmering water, making sure the water does not come in contact with the bottom of the bowl., Gently whisk egg whites and sugar together over simmering water until egg white mixture is hot to touch or a candy thermometer reads 140°F, being careful not to cook the egg whites via constant shirring.
- Place bowl on stand mixer, and beat until double in volume and thick and glossy, holding firm peaks that just curl at the tip. Quickly beat in vanilla extract.
- Spoon evenly or pipe decoratively over tarts. Brown meringue with a kitchen or blow torch or place tarts on a baking sheet in a preheated 375 F oven for about 15 minutes until meringue is browned.
Pom Wonderful sent me a case of their pomegranate juice to sample. I was not monetarily compensated for this post, and all opinions expressed are my own.