Ideas for Pomegranate Desserts

Native to the Middle Eastern region, the pomegranate is a colorful bush fruit grown in California and similar climates. In recent years, the growing trends to stay healthy and embrace more “exotic” fruits and vegetables have seen an upswing in pomegranate-flavored snacks, juices and desserts.

A pomegranate is about the same size as an orange. In the beginning, the pomegranate is a yellowish fruit that turns a rich shade of red when it becomes mature. The husk is inedible, but the seed kernels situated in individual cells are. A sac filled with juice surrounds each seed, which is pressed out when the fruit is processed to make a fruity, sweet liquid.

If you are interested in incorporating the fruit into your diet, perhaps you will enjoy the following ideas for pomegranate desserts:

Pomegranate Parfait

When properly served and garnished, parfaits make an elegant dessert for get-togethers and romantic nights in. Ingredients to make a pomegranate parfait may include 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin, 1 cup sugar, 3 eggs (separated), 3/4 cup water, 1 cup pomegranate juice, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, and 1 cup whipping cream.

In a heavy saucepan, mix the gelatin and sugar together. Set aside so that you can whisk together egg yolks and water that is stirred into the gelatin mixture. Cook the ingredients over medium-low heat, making sure not to boil. You should constantly stir until the gelatin and sugar dissolve, which should take about five minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pomegranate and lemon juice. Place the pomegranate mixture into the refrigerator. You should occasionally stir the dessert until the mixture slightly mounds when dropped from a spoon. This process will take about 2 ½ hours.

When the pomegranate mixture is ready, beat egg whites until stiff (but not dry). Thoroughly fold the egg whites into the pomegranate mixture. Set aside. Beat the cream until soft peaks form, and then carefully fold into pomegranate mixture. Chill the dessert in parfait glasses for at least four hours. A garnish for this pomegranate dessert includes whipped cream, chopped pistachio nuts, and of course, pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate Syrup

To liven up a dessert, consider drizzling on pomegranate syrup – perfect for cheesecake.

A typical recipe calls for 1 cup of pomegranate juice and ½ cup sugar. Fresh pomegranate juice at home is as easy as adding 1 ½ to 2 cups of pomegranate seeds to a blender, which yields 1 cup of juice. Blend the seeds until liquefied. Pour the mixture through a sieve or fine strainer.

To make the syrup, combine the sugar and pomegranate juice in a 1 to 2 quart pan. Boil the ingredients over high heat – stirring until the sugar completely dissolves. Boil the mixture for one minute, remove from heat, and then allow to cool. Cover the syrup and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Other ideas for a pomegranate dessert include:

Pomegranate Mousse – made with powdered sugar, mascarpone cheese, egg whites, and crème fraiche as some of the ingredients.

Pomegranate Yogurt Dip – made with chilled plain yogurt, finely chopped scallions, pomegranate juice, fresh cilantro, and pomegranate juice.

Pomegranate Muffins – made with pomegranate seeds, milk, one egg, butter, baking powder, flour, sugar, salt, and grated lemon peel.

8 Tips for Cheesecake Makers

The history of cheesecake is one traced back to ancient Greek times before the Romans embraced the dessert after their conquest of the city. Over the years, the sweet treat comprised of soft, fresh cheese has been sweetened and topped with sugar, nuts, fruit, glazes, and chocolate sauce. If you wish to enjoy cheesecake in the comforts of you own home – perhaps the following tips can ease the process and improve the outcome:

1) Testing for Doneness

Avoid overbaking your cheesecake by testing it for doneness at the minimum baking time range. To test for doneness, do not insert a knife because the hole left behind could turn into a large crack. Instead, gently shake the cake. If it jiggles, return the cheesecake to the oven for more baking.

2) Prevent Cracking

To prevent cracking, there are a couple of things to do. After adding eggs to the filling, gently beat, and then stir in the remaining ingredient by hand. If you beat too vigorously, too much air will cause the cheesecake to “puff up,” fall, and then crack. When baking, situate a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven to prevent cracks in your cheesecake.

3) Low-Calorie Cheesecake

If you’d like to make a cheesecake with fewer calories, use light cream cheese instead of regular.

4) New York Style Cheesecake

If you are interested in making a New York-style cheesecake, expect a dessert with a lot of heavy cream. Typical ingredients include cream cheese, eggs, and egg yolks, which add richness and smoothness to the filling. It is typical to bake the cheesecake in a special springform pan measuring 5 to 6 inches tall. To vary the texture and flavor, consider using cottage cheese and lemon. Other suggestions include adding strawberry sauce or chocolate sauce to a basic cheesecake recipe.

5) Is It Done?

It’s OK if the center of your cheesecake is soft when you first remove it from the oven. This is normal and as the dessert chills, the center will become firm.

6) Cutting Cheesecake

Use a wet knife to better cut cheesecakes and make sure to clean the knife after each cut.

7) Storage

Cheesecakes will keep for up to three days if they are covered and refrigerated.

8) Freezing Cheesecakes

If you are unable to eat all of your cheesecake, you can freeze leftovers in an airtight container or heavy foil. Plan on eating a whole cheesecake within one month or consume individual slices within two weeks. When serving frozen cheesecake, loosen the covering and thaw a whole cheesecake in the refrigerator for 24 hours or allow slices to thaw at room temperature.

What is Fondant?

Fondant is the smooth, near perfect icing used to decorate the majority of today’s wedding cakes. There are different types of fondant, including the kind that drapes over an entire cake. You may also pour the liquid form over cake or roll out to make impressive decorations. The benefits to using fondant in cake making are to display a more professional look, create a distinct texture, and to keep the cake moist for a longer period of time.

Fondant is typically difficult to make from scratch, as the sugar mixture needs to be heated and cooled in a precise manner. For example, tiny crystals form as the fondant cools. If the sugar is heated at too high of a temperature, the fondant becomes dull and gritty.

What Can I Do With Fondant?

One of the most common ways to use fondant is to cover an entire cake to create an elegant, smooth appearance. Many fancy, highly decorated cakes are made with fondant to achieve this look. Fondant also allows cake makers to create stunning displays, as it can be kneaded by hand into a workable, edible decorating element. Shaped into flowers, ribbons, and other finishing touches – fondant is quite versatile. There is no limit to what you may create.

Homemade Fondant
One of the easiest ways to make fondant is to use a recipe that includes marshmallow. An example of a homemade fondant recipe is below:

Ingredients

  • 16-ounce bag of marshmallows
  • 2-pound bag of powdered sugar
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon flavoring (such as clear vanilla, orange, or peppermint)

Instructions

1. Empty bag of marshmallows into a glass bowl. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.

2. Microwave the mixture until a smooth consistency is reached – in 20 to 30 second increments, making sure to stir between times.

3. Remove the bowl from microwave. Stir in half the bag of powdered sugar.

4. Wipe your kitchen counter clean. Pour the remaining powdered sugar on the counter.

5. Pour the marshmallow mixture on the powdered sugar pile.

6. Add flavoring to your marshmallow mixture.

7. Knead the remaining sugar into the dough. Make sure to keep your hands covered in powdered sugar.

8. When you reach the point where you think no more sugar can be incorporated, keep kneading.

9. Add in small amounts of the remaining water.

10. The fondant is ready when you have a smooth, elastic ball. If the dough breaks when stretched, add a bit more water.

11. When not in use, double wrap the fondant.

12. If the dough is too stiff after being refrigerated, place in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds on defrost.

Chocolate Raisin Walnut Pie Recipe

National Pie Day is coming on January 23rd. Are you ready? In the following days we’ll be featuring a few award-winning pie recipes courtesy of the American Pie Council®.

Chocolate Raisin Walnut Pie
Best of Show Professional Division, 2010
1st Place Raisin
Andrea Spring, Bradenton, FL

photo courtesy of the American Pie Council
CRUST
1-1/2 cups Crisco shortening
1 tsp white vinegar
2 T milk
½ cup hot water
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 T cornstarch

Combine shortening, vinegar and milk.  Pour in hot water.  Mix well.  In separate bowl, mix together flour, salt and cornstarch.  Combine flour mixture with shortening mixture until dough forms.  Separate into four equal balls.  Wrap in film wrap and refrigerate 1 portion and freeze remainder for future use.  Refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling out.

FILLING
3 eggs
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup dark corn syrup
¾ cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup dark raisins
¾ cup chopped walnuts

Mix eggs, vanilla extract, sugar, cinnamon, butter and corn syrup until well blended.  Add chocolate chips and walnuts, mix well.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 °F.  Roll out one portion of pie dough.  Place in 10” pie pan.  Sprinkle raisins over bottom of pie shell.  Carefully pour filling over raisins.  Bake for 10 minutes at 400°F.  Lower temperature to 350°F for 30 minutes or until center of pie is just set.

Frosted Reindeer Cookies Recipe

Today I’d like to share with you a yummy recipe from our friends at Pillsbury.com! It’s easy to make and the result is incredibly cute and delicious! When you get to the decorationg part, you can ask your children or grandchildren to help! Here we go!

INGREDIENTS:

1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated sugar cookies
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup vanilla ready-to-spread frosting
64 small pretzel twists
64 semisweet chocolate chips (about 1/4 cup)
16 gumdrops, cut in half

photo courtesy of Pillsbury.com

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, break up cookie dough; work flour into dough until well blended. Shape roll of cookie dough into triangle-shaped log. (If dough is too soft to cut, place in freezer 30 minutes.)

2. With thin sharp knife, cut dough into 32 (1/4-inch-thick) triangular slices; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake 7 to 11 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

4. Frost cookies with frosting. Place 2 pretzel twists on each triangle near corners for antlers. Lightly press 2 chocolate chips into each cookie for eyes and 1 halved gumdrop for nose. Store between sheets of waxed paper in tightly covered container.

Enjoy! Happy Holidays!

Pumpkin Roll Recipe

With the holiday season officially upon us, a truly delightful and unique dessert recipe is called for to welcome the arrival of the season. LIBBY’S® pumpkin roll is the perfect recipe to do just that. It is the perfect holiday dessert with it’s sweet pumpkin cake rolled around thick layers of rich cream cheese. When sliced, the whimsical pinwheel cake delights everyone served.

Don’t be intimidated by this dessert’s fanciful appearance. Roll cakes may look elaborate, but if you follow the instructions and roll up the hot cake as soon as it is removed from the oven, the dessert will construct perfectly and slice into beautiful pinwheels when served. Store in the refrigerator and serve at all of your holiday dinner parties this season!

 

Ingredients

 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 c granulated sugar
2/3 c LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 c powdered sugar, sifted
6 tbsp butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan or deep cookie sheet; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle towel with powdered sugar.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan.

3. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

4. Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

When you think about perfect dessert combinations, fewer things go together as perfectly as chocolate and peanut butter. The sweet, richness of the chocolate pairs perfectly with the smooth, savoriness of the creamy peanut butter. It is a dessert pair made in heaven and since its discovery as the perfect flavor combination, dessert recipes have never been the same.

This recipe is so wonderful because it is subtle enough to be mistaken for regular chocolate chip cookies, but has just a hint of peanut butter that makes you wonder how a chocolate chip cookie could be any more delicious. Use crunchy peanut butter to add more texture to this treat or use the creamy variety to make this cookie soft and chewy. This peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe is the perfect addition to your recipe collection as it perfectly embodies the perfect taste combination of chocolate and peanut butter. Make them and see for yourself! Serve warm from the oven with a glass of milk or bring them to your next gathering. These cookies are sure to please.

Ingredients
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c chocolate chips

Directions

1. Combine butter, peanut butter, and sugar.

2. Add the egg until well combined.

3. Blend the dry ingredients in separate bowl. Add to the creamed mixture. Add chocolate chips.

4. Drop cookie dough by spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for 12 minutes.

7 Tips to Making Better Cut Out Sugar Cookies

When it comes to holiday sweet treats, sugar cookies are a popular choice. Whether unfrosted with colored sprinkles or covered with icing, these seemingly simple treats don’t always turn out as planned. Sugar cookies are also a favorite because it gives people the chance to make use out of their cookie cutters, and the variety of shapes are neverending. To make sure you serve the very best holiday treats, consider the following tips to making better sugar cookies.

1. The Recipe

Let’s say you want to dust off some of your Christmas cookie cutters. One of the first mistakes many people make with their sugar cookies is with the recipe. There is a difference between a “sugar cookie” and “cut out sugar cookie” recipe. The average recipe for soft and chewy sugar cookies will not produce the type of cookies you seek. Before starting out, make sure you are following a “cut out sugar cookie” recipe, which creates sturdier results.


2. Temperature of Dough

Before rolling out your dough, it must be cold – especially right before you pop them into the oven. After they have rolled out their dough, some people will wrap it in parchment paper and place in the refrigerator for two hours to chill. Even after cutting out your shapes, it is suggested to place the cookies in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

3. No Grease

There is no need to grease your cookie sheet. Refrain from using any butter, oil, cooking spray, parchment paper, or silicone mat on the sheet.

4. Cookie Sheets

Do not place your sugar cookies on a warm baking sheet. The heat will start to melt your dough before it’s even placed inside the oven.

5. Icing

Before icing your sugar cookies, make sure that they have completely cooled off.

6. Colored Icing

If you would like to color your icing, add food color to your recipe, but keep in mind that the colors will dry slightly lighter. Select icing colors that are a bit darker.

7. Cookie Decorating

Allow your iced cookies to completely dry for about four hours before you attempt any design work. If you try to decorate while the icing is still wet, the colors will bleed.