pomegranate chocolate cream pie

pomegranate chocolate cream pie

Ok well, it’s August 29, and this my official last pie of summer. I mean, don’t worry—I totally have one in the works for Thanksgiving, but fall and summer desserts have a very different vibe. The days of bright red strawberry pies and cherry galettes will yield to persimmons and apples, and we’ll all finally lose the patience to let them cool on the windowsill, because on a chilly November day, a disastrously runny yet warm slice of apple pie sounds a million times better than a perfectly set room temperature one.

But here between seasons, this pomegranate chocolate cream pie is the perfect thing for easing into the fall. It’s chilled, so you don’t have to leave your oven on for over an hour waiting for the center to get bubbly on a warm August day. But it’s also got a little preview of the fall flavors ahead. If pomegranates aren’t yet available where you are, feel free to skip the topping of fresh arils. The real flavor comes from pomegranate molasses, an ingredient that’s more traditionally used in savory dishes, but also works wonderfully with some sweets, and is conveniently available year-round.

Pomegranate molasses is one of those funny cases where store-bought is actually better than homemade, because manufacturers add a bit of extra acidity that’s hard to replicate when you reduce down pomegranate juice at home. That sweet tanginess works perfectly with chocolate, as anyone who’s ever had one of those addictive “chocolate covered pomegranate-açaí-blueberry (but actually just candy)” thingies can confirm. This is basically the chocolate cream pie version of one of those.

I tried a couple different formulas while developing this recipe, and at the end of the day, the chocolate filling is best sweetened entirely with pomegranate molasses and dark chocolate. Any added sugar and it’s too cloyingly sweet, but any less pomegranate molasses and its flavors and acidity are lost.

Hope you enjoy a slice during this last little bit of warm weather!

pomegranate chocolate cream pie
pomegranate chocolate cream pie
pomegranate chocolate cream pie
pomegranate chocolate cream pie

pomegranate chocolate cream pie

serves 8
active time: 35 minutes
total time: 4 1/2 hours
download a
PDF to print

for the crust

  • 200g all purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 3.5g salt (1/2 teaspoon)

  • 130g cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks (9 tablespoons)

  • 60g cold yogurt (1/4 cup)

  • 15g cold water (1 tablespoon)

for the filling

  • 30g cornstarch (3 tablespoons)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 165g pomegranate molasses (1/2 cup)

  • 2 large eggs (110g)  

  • 590g whole milk (2 1/2 cups)

  • 60g heavy whipping cream (1/4 cup)

  • 30g unsalted butter (2 tablespoons)

  • 200g chopped dark chocolate (at least 72% cacao) (1 1/3 cups)

for the topping

  • 20g sugar (1 1/2 tablespoons)

  • 230 cold heavy whipping cream (1 cup)

  • pinch of salt

  • Chocolate shavings (for decorating)***

  • Pomegranate arils (for decorating)****

The crust:

  1. Place the flour, salt, and butter in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse several times, until the butter blends into the flour, and there aren’t any lumps bigger than a tic tac. Add the yogurt, and pulse 2 or 3 times to distribute. Drizzle in the water.* Pulse a few times until it can be squeezed together into a pliable and smooth dough (don’t over-process). Shape the dough into a ball, flatten the ball into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough out to between 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick; it should be wider than the pie pan (about 13-13.5 inches). Rotate occasionally as you work, but try not to handle the dough too much.

  3. Once it’s rolled out, gently wrap it around your rolling pin to transfer it to the pie pan. Unroll it onto a 9-inch pie pan and gently press the dough into place so it’s in contact with the entire pan. Use scissors to trim some of the excess off, but leave about 3/4-inch of dough hanging past the edge of the pan. Go back and fold the edge under itself so it still overhangs by just about 1/8-inch (you shouldn’t be able to see the pan from above). Crimp, let it sit at cool room temperature for 10 minutes, then refrigerate for 90 minutes.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) convection once the dough is almost done chilling.

  5. Once the pie shell is ready to bake, dock it all over with a fork, and bake for about 20 minutes total, until golden brown. About 5 minutes into baking, check on it to see if it’s sliding or puffing too much on the bottom. Take it out and dock it again with a fork to make it collapse, and nudge it back into place if it’s shrinking/sliding. Put it back in the oven, and check on it again after another 5 to 10 minutes, repeating if it’s puffing up again. Or feel free to use pie weights instead if you’re not super experienced with pie dough (see note). **

The filling and toppings:

  1. Combine the cornstarch, salt, pomegranate molasses, and eggs (off the heat) in a medium saucepan. Whisk together until there are no more lumps. Stir in the whole milk and 1/4 cup heavy cream, and whisk together until completely combined. Set over medium-high heat, and bring to a simmer while stirring constantly.

  2. Once bubbles start to break the surface, cook for 1 minute (keep stirring), and then remove from heat. Immediately add the butter and chocolate, and stir until both the butter and chocolate have melted completely and incorporated into the filling.

  3. Immediately pour it into the baked pie shell, and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before continuing.

  4. While you’re waiting on the pie to chill, place the sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer (or a stainless steel bowl), and place it along with the whisk attachment (or a regular whisk) in the refrigerator to chill.

  5. When the pie is ready to come out of the refrigerator, whip the cream: add the 1 cup heavy whipping cream and a pinch of salt to the sugar, and beat at medium-high speed, until it reaches soft- to medium-peaks (don’t beat it all the way to stiff peaks unless you plan to pipe it).

  6. Top the pie with the whipped cream, not quite spreading it all the way out to the edges, and making little swooshes on the surface with a small offset spatula or knife.

  7. Top with chocolate shavings and pomegranate arils, and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it. It keeps very well in the refrigerator for a few days, although the whipped cream may start weeping after the first 24 hours (don’t make it more than 12 hours ahead of time for special guests, but enjoy the leftovers for days).

* If you measured precisely in grams, you can add the water all at once. If you’re using volume, you should add the water in 2 installments, and you might even need to add a bit more to get it to hold together (volume is less precise).
** To prevent shrinking and puffing in the first place, you can use pie weights. If you go the pie weight route, you don’t need to do the whole thing with the folded-under crust, and you don’t need to let it rest in the refrigerator for so long. I hate pie weights, and always use this method to avoid them, but some might find this technique more trouble than it’s worth, and it’s totally a matter of preference. If you use pie weights, your pastry won’t be as flaky and puffy, and you’ll need to bake it for a few minutes without the weights to make sure the bottom browns. If you’re new to baking, you might want to try using weights, because it’s a little easier and failproof.
*** For big, bold shavings, make sure your bar of chocolate isn’t too cold. I like to microwave mine for about 10-20 seconds, not to melt it, but just to help it soften very slightly and take the room temperature chill off. A slightly warmed bar of chocolate will let you shave off bigger pieces, and those pieces will look velvety rather than chalky. Simply drag your knife across the surface at a 45 degree angle (carefully, away from yourself), or use a veggie peeler.
**** The easiest way to seed a pomegranate is under water.

pomegranate chocolate cream pie

chocolate cherry galette with no-churn arak ice cream

chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream

Anise is such a polarizing ingredient, and over the course of my life, I’ve gone from hating it, to enjoying it in small doses, to “give me all the anise!!!” Since I’ve been on a bit of a journey with this particular flavor, I absolutely appreciate that most people prefer some amount between zero and a whisper. So while I’m not going to ask you to start doing shots of arak with me, I am going to let you in on a little secret… it’s absolutely delicious in ice cream in small doses, and it brings out the best in cherries and chocolate. So arak ice cream is just the perfect thing to put on this chocolate cherry galette.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, don’t fret! I don’t either. I used to have one, which was a lovely gift from my mother-in-law many birthdays ago. I got a ton of use out of it over the years, but when we moved to Hong Kong and downsized our apartment, it was one of the tools I just couldn’t justify moving and finding space for (although I have to admit, this article by Pooja Makhijani made me momentarily want to donate my food processor to make room).

So we’ve been sorely lacking homemade ice cream these last couple years, until I started getting into no-churn varieties this summer, inspired by this cherry chip ice cream by Kate Wood from a couple years back, as well as South Asian kulfi (one of my favorites!). I highly recommend trying a no-churn recipe if you’ve always wanted to make ice cream, but don’t have room for another appliance. The key to a really good scoopable one is to add a little bit of booze, and even better when that booze adds just the right flavor. The classic ratio you’ll find all over the internet is 2 cups heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks + 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk + 2-3 tablespoons hard liquor. It never fails!

If you absolutely hate anise and couldn’t imagine enjoying it even in small doses, feel free to forgo the arak, because this galette is delicious all on its own. Simply use a little vanilla extract instead, and add some vodka or kirsch if you’d like. The chocolate crust is another good takeaway from this post. I came up with this recipe after years of trying to find a pie crust recipe chocolatey enough to my liking, and always coming up short. This one almost tastes like brownie corner crust pieces, but more buttery. It would be just as wonderful with a double chocolate cream pie.

chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream
chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream
chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream
chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream
chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream
chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream

chocolate cherry galette with no-churn arak ice cream

serves 6 to 8
active time: 35 minutes
(start the day before serving)
download a
PDF to print

day 1

no-churn arak ice cream

  • 460g heavy whipping cream (2 cups)

  • 1 395g can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)

  • 45g arak* (3 tablespoons)

    1. Whip the cream to stiff peaks (don’t over-beat it, or it will turn to butter).

    2. In a separate bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk and arak.

    3. Fold 1/2 of the sweetened condensed milk mixture into the whipped cream, then carefully fold in the last 1/2.

    4. Pour the mixture in a loaf pan, cover with foil or plastic wrap, and freeze overnight.

chocolate pie dough

  • 180g all purpose flour (1 1/3 cups)

  • 40g cocoa powder (shy 1/2 cup)

  • 50g powdered sugar (shy 1/2 cup)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 130g cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks (9 tablespoons)

  • 60g plain cold yogurt (1/4 cup) - not Greek/strained

  • 15g cold water (1 tablespoon)

  1. Place the flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, salt, and butter in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse several times until there are no lumps of butter left. Add the yogurt, and pulse a couple times to combine, then add the water, and pulse a couple more times, until it comes together into a dough (don’t overmix).

  2. Form the dough into a flat disc, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

day 2

cherry galette

  • 330g pitted halved cherries (2 1/4 cups, from about 380g whole)

  • 25g sugar (2 tablespoons)

  • 15g cornstarch (1 1/2 tablespoons)

  • 1.5g cocoa powder (1 teaspoon)

  • 1 pinch salt

  • 15g lemon juice (1 tablespoon)

  • cocoa powder for dusting

  • chocolate galette crust (above)

  • chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)

  1. Let the dough sit at cool room temperature for about 30 minutes.

  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) convection, and line a sheet pan with parchment.

  3. Combine the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice, and let the filling sit while you roll out the crust.

  4. Lightly dust a clean surface with some cocoa powder. Roll out the chilled dough disc into a circle, re-powdering as needed to keep it from sticking. It should be about 1/4-inch thick, and 12 inches across. Careful not to tear it (though the edges might split a tiny bit, which is fine). Transfer to the parchment-lined sheet pan.

  5. Scoop the cherry mixture and juices onto the center of the chocolate crust, and then fold the sides about 2 inches in toward the center, leaving a big gap in the middle (see photos).

  6. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the crust is baked through and the center of the cherry filling is hot and no longer super runny.

  7. Let it cool at room temperature for at least 10 minutes, and then serve with the arak ice cream (and garnish with chocolate shavings if you’d like).

* Arak is a Middle Eastern spirit, flavored with anise. If you can’t find it, you can substitute Greek ouzo. And if you absolutely hate anise, you can substitute kirsch or vodka. If you can’t have alcohol at all, feel free to leave it out altogether. The resulting ice cream will be a little less smooth, and will have some little ice crystals. Oh, and if you can’t find arak but really want to replicate its flavor, you can use vodka and a little pinch of star anise powder or a few drops of anise extract in this recipe. Just make sure you don’t overdo it—it should taste almost like vanilla.

To make ahead: The ice cream and pie dough can be made weeks ahead of time and kept in the freezer. Thaw the pie dough in the refrigerator for a couple days before using. While the ice cream really needs a full 12+ hours to freeze, you can totally make the pie dough the day you plan to bake. The galette itself will keep at room temperature for a day or two, but (like all baked goods) is best kept in the freezer after that to prevent staling.

chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream
chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream

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