Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's pomegranate

Since ancient times, the pomegranate has been a fruit full of symbolism in Greek culture. It is the fruit of birth, death and rebirth but also the fruit of fertility and good fortune.

In many Greek homes, when the New Year arrives, a single pomegranate fruit is tossed and broken at the entrance of the household and the more seeds that burst out of the fruit, the more luck and good fortune the members of the family will have in the New Year. In my family, I usually am the one who has the task of breaking the pomegranate—I am sort of the family's good luck charm—and I always enjoy doing it, it's really fun.

Pomegranates, no matter how symbolic they are in my culture, they're not usually incorporated in many Greek dishes. We simply don't cook with them often but we rather prefer to enjoy the seeds of the fruit in raw form.

I tend to use them in salads and to garnish various dishes, and I love making pomegranate molasses which I incorporate in marinades and savory spreads, but where I most enjoy the taste of the fruit, is in desserts. Its acidic and sweet flavor is unique and pairs beautifully with all sorts of other sweet flavors like vanilla and chocolate.

One of these ingredients, vanilla, is present in this dessert; a vanilla and coconut panna cotta with a pomegranate jelly. The coconut and vanilla is a classic combination that always works but the complementary taste of the pomegranate is what makes this dessert stunning.

The velvety texture of the panna cotta pairs perfectly with the smooth pomegranate jelly and the contrasting texture of the crunchy, fresh, ruby red seeds. It's an exotic, elegant, light dessert and a fitting choice to end a festive, New Year's meal.

I wish you all a healthy, happy New Year full of love and good fortune!!

Coconut and Vanilla Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Jelly

The best way for me to remove the seeds from the pomegranate easily and quickly is by cutting the fruit in half crosswise and whacking the heck out of it (the skin side) with a spoon over a large bowl. The seeds come flying out within seconds. Granted, it's a bit messy but if you do it over the sink, it's fine.

Yield: 8-10 large glasses or 18-20 small ones (vodka shot glasses)


for the panna cotta
500 ml coconut milk
500 ml cream, full-fat (35%)
230 g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise and deseeded
8 gelatin leaves

for the jelly
4 gelatin leaves
480 ml fresh pomegranate juice (or bottled 100% pomegranate juice)
2 tsp caster sugar
60 ml water

Fresh pomegranate seeds, for garnishing

Special equipment: fine sieve, large jug


for the panna cotta
In a medium-sized saucepan, add the coconut milk, the cream, the sugar and the split vanilla bean and seeds. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring continuously until the sugar has dissolved and when the mixture comes just to the boil, remove the pan from the heat, put the lid on and leave to infuse for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, in a small bowl, add the 8 gelatin leaves and cover them with tap water. Leave the gelatin to soak in the water for 15-20 minutes in order to soften and then remove the leaves from the water, squeezing them well with your hands.

Remove the vanilla bean from the panna cotta mixture and add the gelatin leaves. Stir well with a spatula so the gelatin dissolves in the mixture and pass the mixture through a fine sieve and into a large jug.

Fill your glasses by two-thirds with the panna cotta mixture and place them in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours to set. If you use small glasses, then the mixture will need less time to set.

for the jelly
In a small bowl, add the 4 gelatin leaves and cover them with tap water. Leave the gelatin to soak in the water for 15-20 minutes in order to soften and then remove the leaves from the water, squeezing them well with your hands.

In the meantime, in a small saucepan, add the pomegranate juice, the sugar and water (60 ml) and place over medium-low heat. Allow the mixture to heat well (not simmer nor boil), stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the gelatin leaves and stir well with a spatula so the gelatin dissolves in the mixture. Transfer the mixture to a jug.

Divide the jelly mixture to the glasses, pouring it carefully over the cold panna cotta.
Return the glasses to the refrigerator and allow the jelly to set. It will take about 3 hours. If you use small glasses, it will take less time to set.

Serve the dessert topped with lots of fresh pomegranate seeds.

It will keep perfectly in the fridge for 4-5 days.


  1. Perfect combo! We also eat a lot of pomegranate in our culture (Persian ). Happy new year!

  2. This sounds AMAZING Magda! I love coconut and it never deemed on me to mix it with pomegranate. Such a beautiful presentation. Hope you have an incredible 2013! Xronia Polla!

  3. madga, the gorgeous photos never cease to amaze me! I celebrate your point-and-shoot awesomeness.

  4. This is the perfect dessert to end one year and begin the next! It is so elegant, and your photos are - as ever - stunning! Enjoy! ~ David

  5. I also usually just eat the pomegranate raw or use it in salads. I have been trying to come up with more ways to use it in cooking, and this dessert is too tempting not to try. I love the combination of flavors in it, and it looks beautiful. Happy New Year Magda!

  6. Have a Happy new Year all! I wish you and your families all the best! I'm thrilled you liked the dessert!

  7. Happy New Year Magda! I made a similar dessert a while back with our version here of panna cotta (muhallabieh) and it was my favorite, especially since there is a local juice joint which took care of juicing the pomegranates1 :)
    Love your photos they are worthy of being showcased in a magazine!

  8. This is a stunningly beautiful post. Your photos say it all. Happy New Year to you all year long.

  9. Wow! This looks so good and I enjoyed learning about the Greeks. Happy New Year!

  10. happy new year, magda - what a beautiful desert you've made, so appropriate for the season - and as usual, your photography is simply stunning

  11. Happy New Year Magda!
    What gorgeous photos, these would be so impressive as a dessert at a dinner party...

  12. Magda, Happy New Year to you too!

    We are huge fans of pomegranate around here and my kids devour the seeds whenever they can get them. Your coconut panna cotta looks silky and divine. Yum!

    Wishing you all the best this year,

  13. This is really cool! Love both panna cotta and pomegranate. :D Got another yummy dessert for this weekend..thanks! :D Got my eye on your next posts.

  14. Stunning as always, Magda! How interesting that one fruit could symbolize both birth and death! Wow!! Your photos are sublime. Happy Everything this year!

  15. beautiful panna cottas, made quite elegant in those shot glasses. I enjoyed learning about the pomegranate and its symbolism in Greek culture, and can well imagine that you'd be the best choice to break open the fruit

    all the best to you in 2013.