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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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