There's no need to tell you that I love being in the kitchen. So when my mother-in-law informed me that I could make "whatever I wanted" as my contribution to our family Thanksgiving, my mind went wild. Would I make this stuffing again or my favorite sweet potato casserole? I watched old episodes of Baking with Julia in search of the perfect bread to accompany the meal. Would I make a vegetable side dish (and which vegetable would it be)? And of course, I spent much time thinking about the dessert. Thoughts ranged in the pumpkin arena, from mini tarts with toasted pecans to pies with gingersnap crusts.
And then, I was standing in line at the grocery store. My gaze drifted to the Fine Cooking magazine left abandoned on the conveyor belt. The picture on the cover of the magazine was too much for me to pass by: a chocolate pomegranate torte beautifully covered in chocolate glaze and topped off with pomegranate seeds. It was fate intercepting me at Safeway. I had to
have it make it. I paid the steep price for the magazine and happily bounced out of the store.
Did I mention that I did not read any of the instructions on how to make this torte? Upon arriving home, I discovered that this torte recipe involved three major steps including: making the cake, making a pomegranate jelly from scratch, and making a chocolate glaze. I would have to plan ahead for this one. Luckily, the magazine advised completing the first two steps one to two days ahead of serving. I got to work on Tuesday night. The cooking gods were with me, as I completed both steps (and washed the dishes) in just over an hour.
On Thursday morning, we packed up the car with my nearly completed torte, some pumpkin brioche rolls which would do their final rise on baking sheets in the back seat of the car, all the ingredients for my sweet potato casserole, myself, my husband, and our dog- Clancy- who thankfully had a barrier between himself and the food items.
We arrived, and everyone got to work putting together a Thanksgiving meal to remember. Even DJ, my fun-loving brother-in-law (who is asking for an adult big wheels for Christmas), volunteered to be my sous chef for the day. As sous chef, he expertly whipped the sweet potatoes with maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. He peeled potatoes and suffered the classic potato peeling injury: a bloody thumb. And here, he proudly removes the sweet potatoes (topped with maple glazed pecans) from the oven:
My father-in-law Dennis, carved the turkey. John's mother brined the turkey, and then Dennis smoked it on the grill. The result was one flavorful and tender turkey: absolutely delicious. Of course, Dennis is an expert on the grill, and someday I hope he'll allow me to wax poetic about his delicious beef brisket.
My mother-in-law Katherine put together some delicious dishes. She made a wonderful cranberry apple stuffing, delicious green beans, a Martha Stewart inspired artichoke heart casserole (a new favorite), and this delicious pumpkin cheesecake.
The only person who was not much of a help in the kitchen was my husband, John. Yet, he poses proudly with the oven mitts, despite his general lack of involvement in all things culinary on Thanksgiving.
The table was set. And in the words of that fun-loving brother-in-law: it took us twenty minutes to eat a feast that took all day to prepare.
So, we waited a bit for the desserts. . . and here it is: my chocolate pomegranate torte and Katherine's pumpkin cheesecake.
All agreed that the pomegranate paired nicely with with the dark chocolate. However, I can't say that this was quite as good as I imagined it would be. Though I personally like dark chocolate, John informed me (after indulging in the torte) that he really prefers milk chocolate. So, buyers beware: this is a good torte for those dark chocolate lovers out there who enjoy the slightly bitter flavor. If you aren't a dark chocolate lover, I really recommend simply making your favorite brownie, topping it with the pomegranate jelly and the chocolate glaze. Now that would be sure to please.
Chocolate Pomegranate Torte (from Fine Cooking Magazine)
Serves twelve to fourteen
It is recommended that the cake is spread with the jelly one-two days prior to serving. The cake should be glazed the day it is served.
For the cake:
- 2 oz. (4 TB) soften unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, plus more for the pan
- 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70 or 72% cacao)
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 3/4 Cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 Cup unbleached all-purpose flour
For the pomegranate jelly:
- 1 medium Pink Lady or Braeburn apple
- 1 1/2 Cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
- 1/4 Cup plus 2 TB granulated sugar
- 12 frozen or fresh cranberries
For the glaze:
- 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70 or 72%), chopped medium fine
- 3 oz. (6 TB) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
- 1 TB honey or light corn syrup
- pinch table salt
- Fresh pomegranate seeds, for garnish (optional)
Make the Cake: Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease the sides of a 9x2 inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment.