Rain is pouring down and clouds have turned a bright morning into an evening. No complaints though, as the drought has been lasting for too long already. On a day like that, how about a mood enhancer and a ray of sunshine for the palate? And what would that be? There is only one answer for me: a sweet, satisfying, and unfortunately also a high-calorie dessert.
When I took two beautiful red pomegranates out of my shopping bag, all I thought about was this cheesecake I once made for one of the DC restaurants. When I had to produce 30 cakes for one evening, this one was easy to make, tasty, and original. It also preserves well and can be refrigerated for up to one week. And because of the pomegranates it is also very in-season now. Pomegranates are best early in the fall and can last until early winter. I came up with this recipe looking at the leftover ingredients, after having baked already 20 cakes but still needed another dozen.
I have never succeeded in making a good cheesecake in America with Philadelphia cheese as a main ingredient. I used to make the most delicious and fluffy cheesecakes in Poland, but back home we use quark, or farmer's cheese, which we whip with butter, eggs, and sugar. Somehow my American cheesecakes were not as good as those from Cheesecake Factory, and disappointed with the results I gave up on making them. There are not many dishes that you can buy at a store and taste better than home made, but I resigned myself to this one being an exception.
But since making desserts is my biggest culinary romance and cheesecakes have always played an important part in it, I had to come up with something that would be irresistibly delicious and at least in the cheesecake family--a cheesecake dessert, which does not need to be baked, is very delicate in texture and taste, and is more of a dessert than a regular cheesecake.
Finishing this dessert with pomegranates gives it crunchiness and also a dose of antioxidants that this fruit is particularly reach in, and therefore became such a craze in recent years.
Those who come from or traveled to Afghanistan say, that there is no place on earth where pomegranates taste better than there, but also here the most dark and ripe can be very sweet, juicy and worth trying, if you do not mind their kind of seedy texture.
I make my cheesecake dessert in a 10" baking form with a removable wall.
Pomegranate cheesecake dessert
6 oz (200 g), or about 15-16 pieces of Graham crackers,crushed into small crumbs,as you do for regular cheesecake,
1 stick butter (100-112 g)
3 packs of Philadelphia or other cream cheese (room temperature),
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk,
1 tbsp vanilla extract,
1 pack of Dr. Oetker red cake glaze or you can make your own,
1 cup pomegranate juice,
1/2 tbsp sugar,
1 tbsp corn starch.
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Melt butter, mix with graham crackers, and spread this crust over the bottom of the pan and around 1" on the side.
3. Bake 15-20 min until dark gold and let it cool down completely.
1. Using a stand-up or hand mixer whip all the cheese together.
2. Add condensed milk with vanilla essence and mix with cheese until it turns into a smooth filling.
3. Working with your fingers, scoop the pomegranate seeds out of the fruits.
4. Put the filling on the crust and cover it with pomegranate seeds.
5. Make a ready glaze according to instruction or mix together sugar, starch and juice in a pot to make your own. Bring it to boiling stirring continuously. Let it bubble for two minutes until the mixture becomes transparent. Cover pomegranate seeds with the glaze and put the dessert immediately in the refrigerator.
If you are very impatient you can try this dessert a couple of hours later, as I did. It will resemble more a dessert than cake and the filling will be still soft and creamy, running from the crust. With the first bite of it in my mouth, the sun came up again.
If you chill it over night, the filling will set up, the dessert will be easier to cut, and will resemble more of a cheesecake than a dessert. Whatever you prefer, both ways I think this is a really wonderful mood enhancer. In different seasons, this recipe would work as well with blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries, but in my opinion, pomegranates make it really special.