I can't resist pomegranates. Although I've never owned a tree, I can remember knowing where at least one was growing when I was young — no matter where I lived — and kept an eye on it to see if it mattered to whomever owned it. If the fruit was left on the ground after it fell, then that meant I was free to pick one from the tree and dig in, no matter how long it took — even if I had to climb over a fence.
The only places I see pomegranate trees now are around older homes, or on the perimeter of lots where homes have been removed to create something new, like a strip mall. And since fence climbing doesn't exactly mix with middle age, I've succumbed to purchasing pomegranates when I see them at the market these days. Pushing a shopping cart can be brutal during the rush hour, but I rarely wake up sore the next morning.
I do understand that the semi arid and temperate climate of San Diego makes it a perfect place to grow them however, and that they adapt well to containers, so I just may be in the market for my very own tree.
Why all this talk of memories and pomegranates? POM, the nation's largest producer of the antioxidant rich pomegranate, is having a contest, so I thought I'd do some thinking about how I might use the fruit in something other than a salad. I settled on two homey desserts — one for my husband and one for myself. He loves creme brulee, and I enjoy baked fruit crisps, so that's what I created: "Vanilla Pomegranate Pot-de-Creme" and "Apple Pomegranate Pistachio Crisp."
Vanilla Pomegranate Pot-de-Creme
1 c. whole milk
1 c. heavy cream
2 whole vanilla beans
5 egg yolks
6 T. sugar
6 T. pomegranate arils
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare for a water bath by setting 4-6 small oven proof containers inside a baking dish. Spray the containers with oil. Set aside.
Pour milk and cream into a small sauce pan. Split vanilla beans down the center, open them and scrape out the seeds. Combine seeds and empty pods with the milk and cream and bring to a boil over medium heat.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well blended.
When the milk mixture has reached the boil, remove the vanilla bean pods and discard. Give the mixture a good stir and then with the pan in one hand and a whisk in the other, pour a little amount of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking as you pour. Continue to add the hot milk a little at a time, whisking quickly as you pour. Make sure all of the vanilla seeds are scraped into the mixture from the bottom of the pan.
Divide the custard evenly between the containers, and sprinkle pomegranate arils evenly into the custard. Set the pan into the oven and pour hot water about half way up the sides of the containers.
Bake for about 1 hour or until tops are golden brown and custard is set. Remove from water and let cool.
- We loved this right from those little containers which are actually yogurt pots. I save them because they're so cute. You just never know, right?
- This makes too much for 4 pots, so I added the ramekin for over flow. Although I didn't try it, the ramekin could be inverted to reveal the pomegranate which stays near the bottom of the pots. That would be lovely.
- Custard can often be "eggy," but this is not. It's creamy, slightly sweet, and the pomegranate adds a pleasant tartness and crunch.
- There's quite a bit of vanilla in this and it's quite nice. If you need to use extract instead, then 1 to 1-1/2 tsp. should be enough.
- Store in the fridge, covered after completely cool. Condensation will form on the covering if the custard isn't cool and will drip into the custard. Not a good thing. You can set the plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard instead, but it will stick to any surface that wasn't caramelized during baking.
- If you're a creme brulee fan, then this simple dessert makes for a little bit of a crunch on the surface without the torch.