Because we’ve waited all year for pomegranates to be in season, here’s a recipe for a honey-sweetened dessert that takes full advantage of this bright and nutritious fruit: pomegranate panna cotta.
Panna cotta means “cooked cream” in Italian. Classic panna cotta is made with cream, egg white, and honey and baked in the oven. This version, inspired by a recipe on the blog Rubies and Radishes, has gelatin for thickening and coconut milk instead of cream, and it’s cooked on the stove. A pretty pink pomegranate juice layer goes on top of the cream.
Before you can make juice for the pomegranate layer, you’ll need to seed your pomegranates. Seeding takes patience, but it’s worth the trouble, given that pomegranate seeds can be expensive to purchase. I’ve tried supposedly easy ways to seed a pomegranate, but none of them seemed particularly great in practice. For example, Martha Stewart suggests whacking cut halves with the back of a wooden spoon over a bowl. If you try this method, be prepared to have splatters everywhere!
Here’s the less messy and more tranquil method that worked for me: (1) First, roll the fruit on a hard surface to loosen the seeds. (2) With a paring knife, score approximately 3-inch circles around the top and bottom of the fruit, cutting just through the peel. Pull away the circles. (3) You’ll see white lines dividing sections of the seeds, something like citrus sections. Cut through the remaining peel along those “pith” lines and pull apart the sections. (4) To make pulling out the seeds less messy, submerge each section in a bowl of water while prying out the seeds. The seeds will sink to the bottom and bits of pith will float to the top. Skim off the smaller bits with a small strainer. (4) After you’ve removed all the seeds and skimmed off the bits, drain away the water.
When buying pomegranates, choose the heaviest ones—they’ll have the most juice. For well-sourced unflavored gelatin, consider Great Lakes brand, available as beef or pork gelatin, on their website or at Amazon.com. Gelatin has well-known benefits to skin, hair, nails and digestion. Get a daily dose by stirring a tablespoon into your morning tea or juice.
Other uses for pomegranate seeds: Sprinkle on salads or desserts, drop into sparkling water,
|Pomegranate Panna Cotta|| |
- 2 13.5-ounce cans full-fat coconut milk (about 3 1/2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons (2 envelopes) unflavored gelatin
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 pomegranates, seeded (1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups seeds)
- 1 tablespoon (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 24 pomegranate seeds (set these aside, do not juice)
- 8 mint leaves (optional)
- Make the cream layer: In a large saucepan, place 1 can coconut milk. Sprinkle on the gelatin and let rest 1 to 5 minutes. Heat over medium to medium low heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the gelatin, until steaming and bubbles form around the edges. Remove from heat. Add the second can of coconut milk, honey and vanilla, and stir to combine. Pour into 8 6-ounce containers. (To show the layers, use glass containers.) Place containers on a baking sheet for easy transport to and from the refrigerator. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate four hours to overnight.
- Juice the pomegranate seeds: Set aside 24 seeds for garnish. Place remaining pomegranate seeds in a blender. Pulse 3 or 4 times to break up the seeds and release their juice. Pulse only briefly—processing too long will break apart the seeds and make the juice cloudy. Place in a strainer over a bowl, and use the back of a wooden spoon to press out any remaining juice. You should have 1 to 2 cups juice.
- Make the pomegranate layer: Place pomegranate juice in a small saucepan. Sprinkle on the gelatin and let rest 1 to 5 minutes. Heat over medium low heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the gelatin. Watch carefully to make sure the mixture doesn’t boil—boiling will damage the delicate pomegranate flavor. As soon as the mixture steams, remove from heat and stir in the honey. Allow the mixture to cool 30 minutes, then pour it into the dishes, over the cream layer. Re-cover and refrigerate another 4 hours to overnight. Garnish with reserved seeds and optional mint leaves before serving. Keeps for several days in the refrigerator.