Filed under: Fruit Based Bars
November 9, 2020

Pomegranate Meringue Bars

Tart pomegranate curd made from fresh pomegranate juice sits atop a crumbly lime shortbread and is covered in a fluffy lush pomegranate meringue.

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Tart pomegranate curd made from fresh pomegranate juice sits atop a crumbly lime shortbread and is covered in a fluffy lush pomegranate meringue. 

 

 

 

This recipe is a love letter to my favorite fruit. To be clear, I think the best way eat pomegranate is freshly plucked from the husk. I grew up where they grew in plenty and ate them fresh by the spoonful. I still think there is absolutely nothing more delicious than a handful of fresh pommies (I would even choose them over one of my own warm baked cccs, so that is saying something!). 

It wasn’t until recently that we started getting the fruits here on the east coast, readily available at most grocery stores and nowadays, almost affordable (2 for $5 is the rate I bulk buy!). But, a creative at heart, I’ve been wanting to use the seeds for more than speckling a salad or over a cake as a decoration. I wanted this lady to be the star of a dish, so I made her the best one yet. 

 

Pomegranate Curd 

I have been working for so long on this recipe. It began over two years ago with a simple pomegranate curd (pics below). It probably took at least five tries to get it right; balancing the curds consistency and color with it actually tasting like pomegranate. Since the juice is not super strong like lemon, it took a lot of tweaking to get the color, taste and consistency right. 

This recipe produces a luscious, silky, tangy curd that really tastes like pomegranate. There’s no mistaking it for anything but. I add a tiny bit of lime zest & juice, to just bring out the tart flavor which gets slightly muted by the eggs, yolks and butter. Think of the very best lemon curd you’ve ever had, but make it pomegranate. 

The hot pink color: once you add the egg yolks, this is going to turn into a dusty mauve (if you scroll to the bottom you’ll see the pie I made last year without coloring). I tried adding different berry juices to bring back the bright pomegranate pink but doing so interfered with the taste. So, if the color is important to you (and it was for my pics here lol) add a drop of hot pink food coloring. I do it in this cara cara orange tart too! 

 

  

Where and how to get pomegranate juice 

In the past years I’ve started seeing various bottled pomegranate juice in stores and out of excitement I have bought and tried them all. But, here’s the truth: many of them don’t taste great nor do they taste like real pomegranate juice. My guess is that these juices are made by pressing the whole fruit rather than just the arils so the result is a juice that is bitter and quite different than the real fruit.

Back in the gulf, some restaurants offer pomegranate juice and it tastes just as if you were eating a handful; because they press the juice from the arils only. That is exactly what I do here, I open and remove all the seeds, process them in a food processor and pour it through a sieve to get real pomegranate juice. When you make this, make sure to press down with a spoon so as to extract as much juice as possible). I’m not going to lie, you are going to want to drink that delicious juice (I always do!) but I’ll ask you to take one sip and save the rest! 

 

 

How can I make pomegranate juice at home? 

You need 1 cup of juice for the curd and a half cup for the meringue. To get this you need about 3 cups of arils and how many arils you get depends on the size of the fruit you have. If your fruits are large, two could do, if they are on the smaller side you might have to do four or five. Now I know what you are thinking, Sam, do you really expect me to de-seed 4-5 pomegranates? And then not eat them?! So here’s what I suggest: turn on your favorite movie, slice open five poms (here’s a demo for how to do it correctly that I made for IG), de-seed them all, eat some arils, and save 3 cups. I know it’s a pain, but if you can skin chick peas for the smoothest hummus, I know you can do this.

Then you’ll blitz the arils in a food processor and strain them to remove the seeds. You have fresh! pomegranate! juice! You can make this ahead of time, but not more than a few days – the juice is very fresh and won’t last long. 

How to make pomegranate curd for spreading

The recipe below makes a firm curd that sets into a layer, perfect for a pie that needs slicing. If you wanted a curd for spreading or filling: Make the recipe for pomegranate curd as written below, but skip the tapioca starch. When you pour it into the jar you plan to store it in, do it through a sieve to remove any eggy or zest bits. Store it in the fridge, it’ll keep for 3-4 weeks. You can use it to swirl around cheesecake, over meringues or pavlovas, and most definitely over pancakes or french toast… anywhere you would use lemon curd! 

 

Pomegranate Meringue (an Italian Meringue) 

I came across this recipe from Saveur last year and immediately fell in love. I knew it would work well with this curd. It’s the perfect topping, really rounds out the pomegranate flavor, and it’s what I based my apple cider meringue recipe on. I skip a few of the stabilizing ingredients as I find I like my meringues soft like a rich whipped cream, and I don’t use food coloring here to get a nice contrast with the curd which is quite dark. Also, I don’t toast or broil mine because I think it’s phenomenal as is, (and because I think toasting changes the flavor a bit). 

This meringue tastes magically, like pomegranate! It’s a giant white blanket, smooth and fluffy, that you’ll dollop over the curd. It tastes good for days. 

 

How to make an Italian Meringue for a pie topping

Essentially, you’ll boil sugar and juice together until the ‘candy’ stage (250 F, at which if you drop some of the sugar mix into a bowl of cool water it will harden into a ball) and then slowly pour it into frothy egg whites as they are whipping. The sugar mixture, since it is quite hot, ‘cooks’ the egg whites and when whipped together you’ll get a giant meringue. You’ll want to leave the machine whipping for a good 5-7 minutes to get nearly stiff peaks. 

Tools you’ll need: a kitchen thermometer (laser or instant) and a stand mixer.  The former is to ensure you get to the right temperature before you mix it with the whites, the latter to whip the meringue into fluff. 

 

 

Pomegranate Meringue Pie FAQ 

What is pomegranate meringue? 

Heard of lemon meringue pie? This is the pomegranate version! 

Can I substitue pomegranate molasses? 

No. Pomegranate molasses might start as a juice but it has been reduced into a thick syrup and often has additions (I’ve seen sugar at least). It has far too much flavor concentration for our purposes here. The consistency would be an issue as well. You really need fresh pomegranate juice. 

How do I know when the curd filling is done cooking on the stovetop? 

Most curd recipes are done when they reach 170 F, this is when the eggs have cooked and are safe to eat. At this point you’ll notice the curd thickens and will coat the back of a spoon. 

How do I know when the filling is set? 

You need at most 10 minutes for the pie to set in the oven. To check it, shake the pan gently to see how runny the filling is. If it jiggles like a set jello, it’s done. 

Should I toast my meringue? 

If you like! It’ll give it that roasted marshmallow taste. To do so you can either use a kitchen blowtorch (like the ones used to brûlée) or you can preheat the oven to broil on high and set the pie in for a minute or two – keep a watchful eye on it. 

How should I store the meringue pie? 

In the fridge so that the filling and the meringue stay set. At room temperature the meringue will melt and slide off. If you need to, you can freeze the dish whole for a few hours. 

How do I get clean cuts for the meringue slices? 

Set the finished pan in the freezer for an hour or so. Run a chef’s knife under hot water and wipe it dry. This will give you clean cuts, especially if you wipe the knife between each slice. 

 

Below: some process shots from last year and the year before. 

 

 

Below: older editions of the pie: first a tart with a double chocolate drizzle, second a pie made with a traditional pie crust with chopped pistachios, and I toasted the meringue.  Out of all three, the latest edition (with the lime shortbread and the un-toasted topping, the recipe I’m giving here) is my absolute favorite. 

 

 

Recipe for Pomegranate Meringue Bars

Pomegranate Meringue Bars

Pomegranate curd made from fresh pomegranate juice, atop a crumbly lime shortbread and covered in a lush pomegranate meringue.
Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
5 from 6 votes

Ingredients

Lime Shortbread Crust

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter softened

Pomegranate Curd Filling

  • 3 eggs plus 3 yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup pom juice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 TB tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Pomegranate Meringue Topping

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup pom juice

Method

  • Make the shortbread: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a square 8×8” pan with parchment paper. Using a hand mixer, beat together the butter, zest and salt. Beat in the powdered sugar. Fold in the flour. Press the cookie mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden on the edges.
  • While the crust bakes, make the curd: add ¾ cup pomegranate juice and all the ingredients for the curd , except the tapioca starch, to a pot and cook on medium. Once the butter and sugar have melted, mix the tapioca starch and remaining ¼ cup pomegranate juice and add it to the pot. Continue cooking until the curd becomes thick and registers 170 F degrees. If the shortbread isn’t done yet, leave the curd on very low heat. As soon as the shortbread is done, pour the curd over it through a fine mesh sieve. Return to the oven for 10 minutes, until the curd is just set.
  • Let the pie cool at room temperature and then set in the fridge. It needs a few hours to be completely cool and set.
  • The day you plan to serve the pie, make the meringue: set the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Attach a candy thermometer to a pot and boil the sugar and pomegranate juice until the candy stage (250 F). When the sugar is close, begin whipping the egg whites on low until frothy. With the mixture on pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites slowly. Let the machine continue whipping until you have a fluffy, white meringue that holds peaks.
  • Spoon the meringue over the curd and let it set in the fridge for an hour (or more) until it’s time to serve. Slice with a sharp knife (run the knife under hot water and dry it before slicing for cleaner cuts).

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  1. I’m incredibly intrigued by the pomegranate curd part of this recipe. It’s no longer pomegranate season here, but my local Middle Eastern grocery has pomegranate molasses… have you ever done this recipe using that instead of the juice? Any thoughts on how the ratios might change?

    • Hi Mel! Poms are out of season here too :”( I definitely would not use pomegranate molasses which is very, very concentrated and has a different flavor. It’s sour and you might compare it to balsamic. So can’t be a sub for the curd here which needs fresh juice. I’ve had some readers make this with cranberry juice though (not the sweetened kind) so you might like that!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this recipe for my grandpa’s birthday (two days after Christmas), and everyone in my extended family loved it! I’m a huge fan of pomegranate, but unfortunately could not get ahold of enough fresh pomegranates to make this, so I subbed cranberry juice instead. It tasted amazing with the cranberry, and I’m sure it would be wonderful with the pomegranate too; I’d love to try it as originally written at some point. I especially love the addition of lime zest in the shortbread crust; it pairs beautifully with the tangy curd and sweet meringue! Two small modifications I made were baking this in a 9 inch tart pan (I just received a bright blue ceramic tart pan as a gift and wanted to try it!) and, as another commenter mentioned, I made 3/4 of the meringue and it was still plenty. In doing so, I was just able to use the three leftover egg whites from making the curd rather than separating another egg.
    Thanks for another great recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    This made such a great Thanksgiving dessert! I put it in a cocoa pie crust instead of the lime shortbread here, because I couldn’t help myself. I made 1.5 batches of the curd to make sure I had enough for the 9” pie pan; the extra ended up being unnecessary, but I was not upset that I had a jar of curd to snack on for a few days after. The only issue I had was my meringue didn’t fully set, so it very slowly oozed once I had cut into the pie. However, I’m not surprised, since this was my first time making Italian meringue; guess I’ll just need to make more batches to practice! The taste was divine, so a slightly runny meringue didn’t spoil the party at all.

  4. Used cornstarch instead of tapioca (2 + 1/4 tsp) in the curd. My pomegranates are really dark, so the curd is a nice shade of red-purple without food coloring and the meringue a nice light pink. I did add the butter at the very end of the curd to quickly cool it instead of at the start, so that may have helped stop the browning of the pigment?? The curd is excellent! Also the recipe does not specify the amount of liquid to add to the crust – I ended up using about 3 T of lime juice/water.

  5. We moved into a new house that has a pomegranate tree that has gone a bit nuts – so I’m super excited to try this recipe since I’ve already seeding multiple poms! Is there any reason I couldn’t substitute cornstarch for the tapioca starch in the curd? I’d use half the amount called for, e.g. 2 1/4 tsp cornstarch

  6. 5 stars
    A truly wonderful recipe with such a unique flavour profile. Not too sweet with a fantastic hit of pomegranate. I highly recommend to all.

  7. 5 stars
    This might be the best thing I’ve ever baked. My brother who doesn’t like sweets even had seconds and my mom told me it was a 10/10 maybe 5 times? My curd was really jiggly in the oven even after baking for 16 minutes so I finally just took it out and it was fine after I put in the fridge for a few hours. The crust was perfect, nice and short. I made 3/4 of the meringue because it seemed like a lot and probably could have just done half. Very different from the usual stuff I bake but so worth it for a special Christmas dessert.

  8. Do you mean 3 eggs AND 3 yolks in the curd? If so, I think they should be on separate lines for clarity! Or if it’s just 3 yolks, maybe say “3 egg yolks”. But since it’s a cure I’m leaning toward the former.

  9. 5 stars
    This pie was worth every bit of effort. As Sam mentions, just throw on a show and de-seed your poms. I loved the taste of the curd and maybe loved the sweet pom molasses flavor in the meringue even more! And the colors!! It’s just one of those bakes that make you happy 🙂

  10. 5 stars
    This recipe was a great addition to my Thanksgiving of 3 this year. It was light and refreshing – perfect after a big dinner. The process was explained really well. I made Italian meringue for the first time too because of this recipe which is exciting!! I’m also not afraid of peeling pomegranates anymore because of the Instagram Reel you made so thanks for the extra tips!

  11. Ooohh perfect timing. My pomegranate tree produced a lot of poms this year. I have been looking for something to use the arils besides snacking and sprinkling on food. I will definitely try this very soon!

  12. Saw this tart on IG and it stopped me in my tracks. I could not figure out how you got that gorgeous hue of the pomegranate curd.
    I made pomegranate curd last year, to fill doughnuts, and learned that there is a chemical reaction that occurs when pomegranate juice is heated. It turns a disgusting mauve colour! I learned how to counteract this from Sarah at snixykitchen. When making the curd, grind up done dried hibiscus flowers with the sugar for the curd! Not quite as pretty as using hot pink food colouring but still quite nice.
    I used bottled POM juice but now you have convinced me to make my own. The pomegranate meringue sounds heavenly. I need to make some pomegranate tarts very soon. Just perfect.

    • Hi Cindy! Hehe, yes it absolutely does turn mauve, almost brown but I think this has more to do with the yolks than it does the pom (raspberry curd does this as well). Sometimes I boil down fresh pom juice and it stays very bright pink. I have heard about using hibiscus to make bakes naturally redder, but personally I hate the taste of hibiscus so idk if I could ever bring myself to try it, lol. I did successfully get this to turn a pretty pink by adding blackberry puree in place of some of the pomegranate juice but ultimately decided I wanted to use as much pomegranate here so that I got that strong tart, pom flavor. The blackberry (since it took place of some of the liquid) muted it too much for my liking. A pop of food coloring made it look the way it was before those yolks hit it! Also, I can’t believe you used it in donuts! That’s exactly what I did two years ago when I first nailed down my pom curd recipe – I gifted them to a friend for christmas 😀