Friday, January 2, 2009

Alice Medrich’s Chocolate-Pomegranate Torte

To save up some money for the holidays, we’d been staying in and cooking at home recently, so I don’t have big restaurant meals to review lately. A couple interesting things have appeared in our kitchen, though, so these next few blog posts will be of the ‘at home’ sort.

This week, I, like many people, stepped onto the bathroom scale and sighed deeply. Holiday weight gain is one of those things that, despite every good intention, always manages to put a damper on the spirit, even as I’m already struggling to get back to work after time off. Fortunately, I have lots of happy and delicious holiday memories to recall as I slog to work next week.


One of them is this Chocolate-Pomegranate Torte pictured above from the cover of December’s Fine Cooking magazine. It’s a recipe by Alice Medrich, the so-called ‘first lady of chocolate,’ and her article is called “The Dark Side of Chocolate.” The glossy cover photo of this cake is so beautiful and tempting, I almost went over to the dark side and paid the cover price to buy a copy of the magazine. In the hopes of saving a tree (and a few bucks) I found the recipe online (for free!), and gave it a try. I would say that this PB220283is not a totally easy recipe, since it involves whipping egg whites and folding them in as well as controlling melted chocolate, but I managed to do it without screwing up too badly, and it was really delicious. 

One strange thing is that the recipe calls for 12 cranberries, which I thought might have been a misprint (does she mean 12 oz.?), but indeed 12 cranberries was just the right amount. I absolutely loved the sweet gel of pomegranate juice, pomegranate, apple and cranberries, underneath a smooth chocolate glaze. Tastes divine, and definitely suitable for other dessert applications.

As for the chocolate cake itself, I thought maybe it was just a little bit dry, but I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, which isn’t quite up to the 70% cocoa level that Alice recommends, and I didn’t have exactly the right pan size, so that could account for a variation in texture. And, of course, my technique with spreading chocolate is not tippy-top, so my cake was no cover model.  The sprinkling of ruby-like pomegranate seeds made up for the visual defects, but I didn’t really like their crunch alongside tender cake and gooey jam and glaze.

Now I ask myself, how many laps do I have to swim to burn off this indulgence? (and of course I didn’t eat just one piece!) And what about the Pom-tini’s we had with the leftover pomegranate juice? (Thanks, Martha!)

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