About this time last year I began eating pink pomegranates. I sought them out like a pom fiend, which was a complete shock, especially to me, because I’m not usually a fan of pomegranates – I found them too fussy and puckery for casual noshing. If you had the patience to retrieve their hardly palatable arils, they made a bloody mess, and if you didn’t have a bowl of water, they turned your hands annoyingly sticky. Pink pomegranates are different. They are still messy, but less red. They are still seedy, but less chewy. They are easier to de-seed, and most importantly, they are very very sweet. If you like pomegranates simply for their tart flavor, pink pom is not for you. Some people say that they are good for you, but health and candy doesn’t go that well together.
Candy? More like my feeble attempt at confections. Let’ start with a somewhat healthy snack before we talk about how terrible I am at making candy.
What I really wanted to make was a pomegranate bar, you know, those compressed honeyed bars full of nuts and seeds – I thought the pomegranate arils would be a perfect replacement for dried nuts. They weren’t. Pom arils (the seeds from pomegranate) are delicate. If heat touches them they will melt. Or pop. Or both.
You might be wondering why on earth I was trying to attempt such an impossible task. Well, it was because I saw pomegranate brittle. If someone can make pomegranate brittle I can make pomegranate bars right? Wrong. I tried and tried and tried. And I ate a lot of it, whatever it was, which was not pomegranate nutty bars held together with gluey honey and almond butter.
In the end, I thought I should put my failure to good use – as a parfait topping! It was delicious. Crunchy granola sweetness and sweet juicy pink pom arils with yogurt. I especially love how the arils release sweet fruit juices into your mouth with each bite. It’s much more fun than it ought to be and more healthy than no yogurt. Yogurt is healthy right?
Pomegranate & Almond Crumbles
1/2 c. oats
1/2 c. puffed rice ( or puffed millet)
1/2 c. sliced almonds
2 TB seeds (I used a combination of flax and hemp seeds)
1/8 ts salt
1/4 c. honey (if you use maple syrup, agave, etc…. you might need to increase almond butter to get everything to stick together)
1/4 c. almond
1/2 ts. almond extract
1 c. pom arils
Yogurt (plain, unsweetened if using pink pomegrantes, since they are very sweet)
+ Heat your oven to 350 F and roast the nuts, puffs, seeds and oats with salt for at least 10 minutes, until golden.
+ Spray a small saucepan with nonstick spray, heat the honey, almond and extract – stirring together to get a smooth consistency.
+ Spray or coat a loaf pan with nonstick spray or butter (spraying all of your spatulas, pans, etc. will make this easier as everything gets very sticky).
+ Spray your mixing bowl with nonstick spray before combining the wet and dry mix. Use a nonstick spray to prevent your spatula from getting all sticky. Gently toss in the pomegranates. Press the mixture into the loaf pan, being sure to use gentle pressure. If you press too hard, your pomegranates will pop and the mixture will be less solid.
+ Serve with yogurt and additional pom arils as a quick breakfast parfait.
It’s easy to get lost in the silence of failure. If I’m not particularly careful, the beast will practically devour me. There are times when the repetition of failure can drown out all of those things that seems all too familiar, yet unrealized – maybe I was dreaming when I made it up in my mouth? There are those that can make things work on the first try, but how have the rest of us been getting by? Repeating failures. Again and again. Over and over. Then, you wash dishes or eat chocolate.
Which, is why I am proposing this chocolate bark. It’s full of pom arils and chunks of pistachios. I don’t even feel guilty eating it for the past two weeks. Mostly, by myself. Or during moments of frustration when all I’ve cooked at the end of 3 or 4 hours is failed candy, i.e. burnt sugar liquid. A mulligan’s reward of sorts.
Pomegranate & Pistachio Bark
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 c. salty, roasted pistachio (or more)
1 c. pom arils
+ I suggest sweet pink pom arils and pistachios or tart red ones and candied ginger with dark chocolate. YUM!
+ Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment. If you like your bark thin, place your pan in a warm oven while you melt your chocolate. This will help you spread it out.
+ Melt your chocolate using a double broiler. Or microwave if you prefer.
+ I like a chunky bar with nuts embedded into the chocolate. I mix my nuts and half of the poms into the melted chocolate before emptying it onto the sheet pan.I spread it out as much as possible, then I sprinkle the rest of the poms on top like sprinkles.
+ To achieve a thin bark, spread the melted chocolate onto a hot sheet pan and spread it out thinly with a spatula. Then toss the nuts and pom arils on top like cake sprinkles.
+ Once cooled, use a knife to cut the chocolate. If you squeeze it with your hand, you will pop the arils and it will make the chocolate wet.
+ Let chill completely and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. The fridge will cause condensation on the chocolate if the poms are not completely dried or if the chocolate is not completely cooled prior to refrigeration.
So about that failure.
I saw that you could (not me) make pomegranate brittle. My eyes, or mouth, must have flashed that crazy look – the same one that’s been possessing me all month. I was, and am still determined to make the perfect pom brittle out of hot sugar water. It’s harder than it sounds. I’ve never de-seeded so many pomegranates in my life. Admittedly, I only started last year.
Anyways, it’s been a crazy, almost delicious disaster. The poms have been exploding in the pan. They pop like popcorn. The sugar have been crystallizing. Because I suck at candy-making. The brittle have practically done a backward somersault just to prove how terrible my luck has been these past few weeks. How can a girl just get pomegranate brittle?
When I got some solid mass from the cooled sugar, they disappeared overnight. Yeah I know, it’s my fault. I am even trying to make a cloudy brittle (not pretty glassy ones) using corn syrup and butter and baking soda (I’m just curious, I hate eating corn syrup). It melted all of the pomegranate arils. Not immediately, just a nice slow death where their juices start oozing out from under the slab. It was a sad scene.
Being the crazy person that I am … I have about 5 more cups of pomegranates to test with (5 more recipes for failure). I’ll let you know how it turns out?
Or, maybe I’ll just make pomegranate preserves.
In the meantime, if you are interested, you can try this recipe for pom brittle, from the POM recipe site.
Here are my tips on candy-making:
+ Spray your pan to help prevent crystalization
+ Use only clean sugar (not from the top of the sugar jar)
+ Don’t Stir
+ Add corn syrup if you keep getting crystallization (I don’t like the taste of this, but it’s a neat trick)
+ This will make your brittle cloudy, less glass-like and easier on the teeth: add butter when you get the golden amber color and the temp is right, then add baking soda. (each recipe will be different, but try 4 TB of butter for every 3 cups of sugar and 1/2 ts of soda)
If you like red pomegranates, here is a fun, cold treat. Freeze thin layers of pom juice with red pom arils. It doesn’t freeze very solid – more like sorbet with chunks of frozen arils. It’s a refreshing and different treat after all of the candy making. Serve in glasses or eat straight from the freezer.
For an even healthier snack, I usually serve this pom and pear salad: candied pecans, thinly sliced pears, pom arils, and a pom vinaigrette over a bed of greens with a bit of arugula. Then, you’ll be ready for more candy making.