It’s safe to say that Cheesecake was an acquired taste for me. When I first moved to the United States I was introduced to a few types of American food and sweets that I had not grown up with. While I LOVE Cream Cheese, Cheesecake was too sweet and too heavy for me. Ironically, it is one of the staple desserts at family gatherings as one of my relatives loves cheesecake. Through the years one thing became very apparent to me: commercial cheesecake and I didn’t get along. However, I slowly acquired a liking for homemade cheesecake.
Now, let’s go back a year. I came across this photo of a Pomegranate Cheesecake from a Persian restaurant review in Atlanta. I was intrigued.
Then the Sous Chef, who is a cheesecake lover, and I had this conversation which I recorded.
Then we actually got more into the details of things.
He is so opinionated, wouldn’t you say?!!
I felt ambitious after said conversation; I contacted my friend Heather,\ who is a Pastry Chef and has been very aptly nicknamed “Dessert Princess.”
Clearly the cheesecake didn’t happen last year. This year it happened though!
It took a few tries. The first it was a bust. It looked good, it smelled good, but it didn’t taste good. It was my fault though…I didn’t really follow Dessert Princess’ quantities, and I may or may not have mixed two recipes. I was scared of making cheesecake…for a good reason. I am not an expert baker. Baking is based on science. I am not good at science or math! I am good at eating…I am told that I am good at cooking, too!! So imagine when “someone” sends me a recipe that is for 8 or 9 cheesecake fillings and tells me to reduce the percentages.
0.1 oz of vanilla. Say WHAT??!! 2.6 oz of eggs. SERIOUSLY?!
So here is my version of Pomegranate Cheesecake made easy for people like me…I chose to keep the recipe in ounces to avoid conversion issues.
1 1/4 cup raw pistachios
2 tbsp butter + 1 table spoon
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom
24 oz cream cheese, room temperature
11 oz sugar
1 1/2 oz Non Fat Dry Milk
1 3/4 oz flour
13 oz sour cream
2 eggs, yolks separated/room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1 packet unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup water
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 packet unflavored gelatin
1 cup pomegranate seeds
In a food processor grind pistachios with sugar and cardamom. Add melted butter and process until it turns into a paste.
Place parchment paper at the bottom of a baking pan. Add pistachio paste and spread evenly all over the bottom of the pan. Bake at 325° F for 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool down to room temperature.
In a mixer combine cream cheese and sugar. Process for about 1 minute until it becomes creamy and smooth.
Add Non Fat Dry Milk and flour. Process for one more minute.
Add sour cream, egg yolks and vanilla.
Place 1/4 cup of water in a bowl or measuring cup, add packet of gelatin and allow to sit for 1 minute. Warm 1/2 cup water to 98° F then add to the gelatin. Allow to cool down. Mix well, then add to the cheesecake filling and mix for about 1 more minute.
Generously rub the sides of the cake pan with butter. Then add cheesecake filling. Place in an aluminum foil and wrap the cake pan in it tightly.
Place the wrapped cheesecake in a hot water bath at least 2 inches high. Bake at 325° F for 60 minutes or until the internal temperature of the cheesecake is 145° F. Once the cheesecake is cooked, leave the cheesecake in the oven and keep the door ajar. This step, in theory is supposed to help avoid the cracking that sometimes happens. Allow to cool down for 1 hour, then remove and allow to completely cool down to room temperature outside the oven.
I found that it is best to let the cheesecake rest over night. So once it comes down to room temperature cover with foil and place in the fridge.
Place 1/4 of pomegranate juice in a bowl or measuring cup. Sprinkle a package of gelatin on top and allow to sit for one minute. In the mean time warm 3/4 cup of pomegranate juice to 98° F.
Add sugar to the warm pomegranate and mix well. Then add the warm pomegranate juice to the measuring cup. Mix well. Allow to cool down.
Sadly, the final time that I made this cheesecake and took pictures I had to leave once the cheesecake was ready. Very sadly when I came home several hours later my cheese cake had cracked. Like serious cracks that looked like the San Andreas fault in California. But that’s OK! We are going to cover the cheesecake. Let’s not focus on the damn crack!
Spoon 1/3 cup of the pomegranate juice mixed with gelatin on the cheesecake. Carefully, evenly spread the juice all over the cheesecake with the back of a spoon making sure that it doesn’t drip on the sides. Cover and place cheesecake in the fridge for 10 minutes then pour another 1/3 cup and carefully smooth it out with the back a spoon. Then place back in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Carefully pour the last 1/3 of juice and quickly smooth over with the back of the spoon. This layer will be a little more difficult to manage and you’ll have to work a little faster. Then immediately add pomegranate seeds on top in your preferred design. Cover and place back in the fridge for 4 more hours.
And that’s pretty much it!!! The cracks don’t look so bad…if anything they add a bit of character!
Enjoy your cheesecake with a hot cup of Persian tea or coffee!
Recipes from Pomegranate Week 2014
Zeytoon Parvardeh ~ Persian Pomegranate, Olive, & Walnut Dip
Recipes from Pomegranate Week 2010
POM Wonderful Dinner Party ~ Persian Ruby
How to Open & Seed a Pomegranate
Rice with Pistachios & Pomegranate Arils
Pomegranate & Lime Glazed Cornish Hens
Recipes from Pomegranate Week 2009
Persians’ Love Affair with Pomegranate
Khoresht Fesenjan ~ Persian Pomegranate & Walnut Stew
Affiliates link included within post.