Monday, March 12, 2012
I have a mild obsession with pomegranates. Those juicy red seeds, bursting with flavor - I've been known to eat a whole one myself. And end up with red-stained fingernails. But I don't bake with them a whole lot, since they're not the easiest fruit to incorporate in to dessert. Enter these tarts - with a pomegranate flavored pastry cream base and a topping of fresh pomegranate arils - they just hit the spot.
There are two basic components to the tarts - the tart crust and the pastry cream filling. While I used fresh pomegranate seeds for the garnish, I used bottled pomegranate juice to spice up the pastry cream. I actually made a large, 10" tart to serve for dessert, and made about 10 mini ones just with the extra tart dough.
Pomegranate season is coming to an end - I managed to buy two in a local market yesterday but if you can find any near you, snatch them up! They keep for at least a month in the fridge - otherwise you'll have to bookmark this recipe for next year...
Tip of the Day: Deseeding pomegranates isn't the most fun task, and there are about a million "trick" methods that will ensure success. In my experience (having tried them all and even watched a dozen YouTube videos on the method) the best way is to run your knife around the edge of the pomegranate then gently pry it apart. Working with half or a quarter at a time, hold the pomegranate in a lage bowl underwater and use your fingers to gently coax the seeds. Then skim the white skin off the top of the water.
21⁄2 cups (300 g) flour
1 cup (200 g) butter or margarine
1⁄2 cup (100 g) sugar
1 large egg
2 cups (480 g) milk
1⁄2 cup (113 g) sugar, divided
40 grams (3 tablespoons) butter
1⁄4 cup (42 g) cornstarch
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 cup pomegranate arils
For the crust: Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat to combine, then add the flour and mix until no streaks remain. Gather the dough together into one cohesive ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
For the filling: Mix together the milk, half the sugar and the vanilla in a medium pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, eggs and cornstarch until smooth – make sure no lumps remain. When the milk comes to a boil, pour half of it slowly over the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then return everything to the pot and bring back to a boil, whisking constantly. When it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and immediately pour into a clean bowl (have on hand before you begin). Whisk in the pomegranate juice until evenly distributed.
Cover with plastic and refrigerate the pastry cream until chilled through – several hours.
(If you don’t whisk constantly, you will likely end up with a very sweet, very thick omelet. Not the desired outcome.)
Remove the dough from the fridge, and roll out on a well-floured surface (and continuously reflouring) until about 1⁄2 centimeter thick. Use to cover either a large tart pan or smaller ones. For a large one, roll the dough to 2" larger than the pan, gently drape over it, fit the dough in to the corners then trim the edges. For little ones, use a cutter that is big enough to cover the bottom and sides of your tart pans, cut as many circles as possible from the dough and fit in to the molds, rerolling as necessary.
Prick the bottoms of the shells with a fork several times and put them in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Cover the shells with parchment paper then fill with pie weights or uncooked beans. Then bake the shells at 375 F for 15-20 minutes until light brown. Let cool.
Whisk the pastry cream again so it is smooth. Divide among the tart shells or pour about 1/2" in to a large one. Top with pomegranate arils, serve immediately.