POM Pomegranate Mousse with White Chocolate Mousse Layer
Pomegranates have a wide and varied history in mythology. Since pomegranates may be one of the first cultivated fruits, this shouldn't be too surprising. Ancient Greeks believed that Aphrodite (the original Greek incarnation of the Roman goddess Venus) planted the first pomegranate, on Cyprus. The rest is history... or at least mythology. February, of course, is the month of Saint Valentine's Day -- a different cultural viewpoint on the ever evolving courtship of the human race. For Valentine's Day this year, I thought it would be fun to mix two favorites in the field of love: pomegranates and chocolate.
I made a layered double-mousse, one with white chocolate, and one with pure POM pomegranate juice. When blended, the recipe creates a nice white and pink contrast, in honor of the holiday.
The ingredient list for this is pretty simple...I'd almost say elegant. Mousse is one of my favorite desserts, precisely because it can so simple, and yet rich and flavorful. Egg white, whipped cream, and flavor base. Chill, and it's magic.
Mousse Basics 3 egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks 1 tbsp sugar 1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks
White Chocolate Mixture 4 oz sweetened real white chocolate 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
POM Pomegranate Mixture 1 cup POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
The technique may seem like it has a few steps, but there's nothing really difficult about this. The only tricky part is making sure that you have enough bowls and whisks to keep everything separate, until it's time to combine. You may end up using every glass or stainless steel bowl in your kitchen. It's worth it, trust me!
To start, chop the white chocolate into chunks, roughly chocolate chip size. Real white chocolate will give the best results (check the label -- white chocolate "morsels" aren't chocolate. You want something that has actual cocoa butter within the top 3 ingredients). This is a Valentine's dessert -- quality counts!
Put the white chocolate chunks in a glass or stainless steel bowl, and hover over a simmering pot of water until the chocolate melts. This shouldn't take long -- white chocolate will melt at body temperature.
Once melted, add 1/2 cup heavy cream and mix until blended well. This is technically a type of ganache, but the cream will help keep the chocolate from solidifying once you take it off the heat and put it aside.
Now for the fun part. Take an 8oz (1 cup) bottle of POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice, and pour it into a small saucepan. Sprinkle one envelope of powdered, unflavored gelatin over the top and let it rest for a couple minutes to "bloom". The gelatin will help stiffen the pomegranate juice with the mousse ingredients and give it a great body and texture.
After a couple minutes, heat the juice gently over low heat until the gelatin just starts to simmer, then move the whole pan into a bowl of ice-water. We're looking for a consistency similar to maple syrup or a light honey. If it gels too much, that's okay! We can always gently heat it back up again, melt it a bit, and try again. It's very forgiving.
Now, we're going to make our mousse base. Pour 1 cup cream into a clean stainless steel or glass bowl. If you have a wand-mixer, or even a stand mixer, you can whip your cream that way. I whipped my cream by hand because I dislike cleaning my mixer more than I mind getting a sore arm, but it's okay any way you want to whip the cream, as long as the cream gets to stiff peaks:
Next, I separated out three egg whites, and same deal -- you can use a mixer or wand or your arm, as long as the whisk and bowl are very clean. With the whites, we're going to stop at soft peaks, add a tablespoon of sugar, then whip some more up to stiff peaks.
I did end up chilling my pomegranate flavoring too much, almost into jello. No problem, I heated the pan again slowly over low heat until smooth, then added it to (yet another) clean bowl.
I added roughly half the egg whites and half the cream to the pomegranate juice, then very gently (so as not to break all the bubbles in the meringue and cream) fold everything together. Just lift and blend very gently with a spatula until nice and pink and incorporated.
The same technique is used with the white chocolate. Clean bowl, add cream, add egg white, fold gently.
Both halves of the dessert are complete now. To serve, gently spoon each half into a glass in layers -- champagne glasses are elegant, but red or white wine glasses, or even martini glasses will work nicely. I used pomegranate on the bottom so that the white chocolate will act almost as a garnish, but you can reverse that, or make several layers. If you get any layer on the side of the glass, a damp paper towel will clean it off easily before adding the next layer.
Chill overnight to set the mousse.
Deconstruction: This is much more elegant and refined than the ingredients would seem -- egg, cream, flavor, and yet the delicate richness makes it a solid choice for a romantic dessert. The white chocolate mousse ended up being sweeter than the pomegranate mousse, which gives a great contrast when combined on the spoon.