It does not matter how depressing, damp and cold the winter becomes, this bright and beautiful dish will brighten up any drab and dreary winters day. With this recipe I celebrate the splendor and beauty of the jewel like fruit in season during the later winter months of December and February, the Pomegranate. Pomegranates are imported and mainly come from the Middle East, America, and South and East Asia. Pomegranates are said to have health benefits as they contain a high level of antioxidants and are rich in vitamin C, potassium and fibre.
For this recipe I combined floral rose water with the acidic and sharp taste of pomegranate. Rosewater is not everyone’s cup of tea and in my opinion and experience it should be used sparingly. Once the yogurt cream cools the flavour magnifies and the taste of the floral rose water becomes more prominent and can easily be over powering. Rosewater is easily found in many supermarkets, cook shops and even in a chemist.
I served the blancmanges with crushed pistachio nuts and pomegranate seeds.
How to prepare a pomegranate. Well let’s face it, this is a messy job. Best tip I can give is to make sure you are wearing your oldest clothing; as I have many time stained my clothes with pomegranate juice trying to remove the seeds. The best way is to take the pomegranate in both hands and give it a bit of a squeeze to loosen the seeds, you can feel them moving about inside, roll it on the chopping board as you would do before juicing lemons and oranges. Cut the pomegranate in half, place a deep bowl in the empty sink, hold the pomegranate over the bowl and use a wooden spoon to slap it so that the seeds falls into the bowl. You might get splashed with the juice but this method is fairly effective. Once the seeds are out pick the white interconnecting bits out. Drain the juice using a fine sieve and the jewels of seeds are ready to be used in either this dessert of in fresh winter salads.
Ingredients & Method
For the blancmanges
- 2 leaves of gelatine
- 335ml milk
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 325ml natural yogurt
- 2 tablespoons rose water (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
For the pomegranate jelly
- 2 leaves of gelatine
- 200ml pomegranate juice
- Seeds from 2 pomegranates
- 1 tablespoon chopped pistachio nuts
Rinse/dampen the insides of eight individual 6 x 5cm round moulds (each mould about 85ml volume) with cold water, then place them in the fridge on a baking tray. Soak the gelatine in cold water until it has softened.
Combine milk and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then simmer for 1 minute.
Remove from the heat, squeeze the gelatine gently to remove excess water, then stir the gelatine into the hot milk until dissolved.
Add yogurt, rose water and pomegranate molasses (optional – see Cook’s Note) to the milk and stir to combine.
Pour the mixture into the chilled moulds, dividing it evenly, then chill in the fridge for about 4 hours or until completely set.
While the blancmanges are setting, make a pomegranate jelly by soaking the gelatine in cold water until it has softened. Place pomegranate juice in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat, stirring continuously, then boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, squeeze the gelatine gently to remove excess water, then stir the gelatine into the hot juice until dissolved. Pour the jelly into a 21 x 14 x 1.5cm white plastic tray and leave to cool, then refrigerate for about 3 hours or until completely set.
To serve, dip each blancmange mould in warm water, shake gently, then turn out on to a serving plate. Cut the pomegranate jelly into small cubes and place some alongside each blancmange, then decorate with fresh pomegranate seeds and chopped pistachio nuts. Serve immediately.
Pomegranate molasses, also known as pomegranate syrup, is a dark, thick, concentrated syrup made by simmering pomegranate juice until it reduces to a sticky syrupy consistency. It has a tangy, sweetly tart flavour (it has an undertone of sweetness) and can be used in sweet and savoury dishes. Pomegranate molasses is especially popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. It is available in many supermarkets, health food shops or delicatessens, or on-line.