Pomegranate in Chocolate: Stroke of Genius

Amanda and I are pretty smart cookies, I must say. Sequester us in a room with the Food Network and you had better just stand back. Things could get dangerous.  Deliciously dangerous. 

So there we were, in the living room, basking in the sparkle of the 3/4 Christmas tree and watching The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network.  It’s a show where chefs and famous foodie folks tell you about the best things they’ve ever eaten according to the theme of that episode (comfort food, fried food, seafood, etc.), how it’s made, and where you can eat it, too.  Tonight it was about dessert. 

I said something to Amanda about how, although I love the show, I shouldn’t be watching it because I’d already decided that my after-dinner treat would be pomegranate and now all I wanted was something covered in chocolate.  Her idea: cover the pomegranate in chocolate. 

That’s why we’re friends, Amanda and I. She’s got answers when I’ve got questions. She’s a gem.

We chatted about it for awhile, mulled over our options. I could just pop the pomegranate in my mouth and chase it with some chocolate chips or I could put the arils in a dish and drizzle melted chocolate over them (not an altogether bad idea at all). 

Here’s what I did for reals:

Step 1: Wipe down the counter. 

Girl, your counter is gross.

Step 2: Pull out your favorite chocolate chips and some pomegranate arils. (Sidenote: are “arils” something you can only find inside a pomegranate? Is that a pomegranate-specific word, or are there other applications? The word nerd in me would like answers.)

I used Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips.  We’re a gourmet household, for sure.

Psych! (Whenever I say or think “psych!” I instantly picture riding the school bus in second grade, probably because that’s the last time that exclamation was appropriate.) We’re not really gourmet, I eat out of a lot of cans. We just are big chocolate chip fans.

Also, you should know that Costco sells little bowls of pomegranate arils already separate from the fruit.  It’s magical.  You clearly do not need the little bowl of pre-separated arils to make the treat I’m about to show you, but it’s what I had on hand because one gets tossed into my cart every time I walk through Costco’s doors.  Clearing out a whole little dish in minutes is not uncommon.  In fact, it was my plan tonight before Rocco Dispirito took over my TV and went all crazy-eyed about a chocolate mousse. Dang it, Rocco.

Should you happen to find yourself in possession of a whole pomegranate and not a handy little bowl of arils, here’s a little direction on how to get into one of those guys without having to drop-cloth your entire kitchen: How to Open a Pomegranate, on Tasty Kitchen. 

Anywho, step 3: Melt your chocolate chips.

Dump your chips in something microwave-safe.

I microwaved mine at 30 and 15 second intervals, checking on and stirring the little dudes until I was happy with their meltediness. It’s a word.  Because I said so.

Not meltedy enough:

Still some lumpy-bumpy chips in there.

Ooooh….that’s a good-lookin’ spoon….

Hey! Don’t lick that! You’ve still got some stirrin’ to do!

When the chocolate is as smooth as you’d like it, all meltedy with no lumpy-bumpies, step 4 is to make little smoodgies of chocolate on some wax paper you’ve laid out.

That’s a smoodgie.

I made one smoodgie at a time. Then, after each smoodgie is spread, I scattered some arils on top. That’ll be Step 5.

That’s a poorly done example of aril scattering.  I used a spoon at first and the little dudes rolled all over.  After that I just grabbed some with my fingers.

Step 6: Top the aril-scattered chocolate smoodgie with more chocolate.

They’ll end up lookin’ somethin’ like-a-dees:

Hopefully they won’t look like this:

That one looks a little like it came from a wild animal with a pomegranate-heavy diet.  Meh.  There’s a learning curve, I guess.  What’s it say about me that I jacked up the execution of a two-ingredient recipe?  Don’t answer that.  

After that little mishap, I decided that maybe whatever it was I was making didn’t actually need the chocolate topper.  The chocolate, I’d thought, was goopy enough that if I didn’t spread the smoodgies so thinly I could probably just gently push the arils into the chocolate and they’d stay perfectly fine.

So that’s what I did:

And then I did this:

And I ate it.  Deeeelightful.  Definitely a sign of good things to come.

Step whatever-number-comes-next: Put them in the freezer or fridge or wherever to let them set up.

It took about five minutes for them to harden in the freezer.

Then, ta-da! Chocolate-covered pomegranate arils!

They are a strange combination of refreshing and chocolately, to be sure.  It works, though. It works well. The pomegranate is a little tart and crunchy and the chocolate is just so purely chocolatey and smooth. Your teeth sink into the chocolate and the little arils burst. Kirstin was a little surprised when I ambushed her into trying them.  The arils go “Pew-pew-pew!” in your mouth, she said. 

I think I prefer the ones without the extra chocolate on top.  There’s a greater aril-to-chocolate ratio.  What you prefer would totally depend on what you prefer…are you looking for a chocolate-heavy snack or do you want more fruit?

Man, I love these.  And they’re easy.  And I made them with things I already had in my house, which is something I get very excited about. Spur-of-the-moment fantastic.  I don’t know if you could tell by the way I was enthusiastically tooting my own horn earlier, but I’m a little proud of what Amanda and I came up with tonight.  It must be considered a health food, too, right?  Semi-sweet chocolate and pomegranates are both packed full of anti-oxidants, right? So I had to be thinking of my health when I finished off the whole plate, right? (Kidding! That totally didn’t happen…yet.)

Who’d have thought a little meltediness, some smoodgies, and food that goes “pew-pew-pew” in your mouth could be so delicious?

Desperation Dinner

This post is brought to you by hunger, desperation, a terrible Monday, and Rachael Ray.

Okay, so it isn’t actually brought to you by Rachael Ray. She doesn’t know me from Adam. Well, probably if Adam and I were side by side she could figure it out.  The point is, this post is in no way the fault of Ms. Ray.  Desperation and Monday, however…well, they know what they did.

My dreams aren’t huge, they’ve just been unattainable lately.  My plan was to hit up the grocery store and Costco Monday night after school.  That didn’t happen.  Not because I was working late, I left school a little after 4 PM.   I had to try to get home before dark beacause earlier in the day I’d cried the contact lense out of my right eye.  All the way home I had to make a constant choice between clarity and depth perception, looking like Popeye and not looking like Popeye.

Sigh.  No groceries means no dinner.  Here’s what I do when I’m hungry and there are no obvious solutions: I scan the pantry, fridge, and freezer and google what I find.  Today I found frozen sausages, pumpkin puree, and black beans.

Clearly and obviously the makings of a gourmet meal.  I googled “savory pumpkin meals.”  The Food Network popped up with a recipe for Pumpkin Blackbean Soup.  I know, right? Kismet.

Still, I was missing several ingredients.  No vegetable stock.  No onions.  No canned diced tomatoes. No curry powder.  Here’s what I did have:

But that didn’t go in the soup.  I ate them to keep my blood-sugar up while I made the weirdest dinner ever.

But these looked useful:

I grabbed these guys and a bottle of dark beer from the back porch and got to work.  Oh, the beer was to replace the vegetable stock I didn’t have.  Totally obvious solution, right? Totally.

I sliced up the sausages and browned them in a pot.

Then I added about half a bottle of beer.  Trust me when I say this substitution isn’t totally crazy.  There’s a chilli recipe I make that has half a bottle of beer in it and it’s delicious.  Since this little food adventure had black beans and the chilli had black beans and if I were eating a savory pumpkin dish I think I’d like to also be drinking a dark beer, it seemed like an ok match. 

After I dumped in the beer I dumped in the black beans.

And I dropped the top of the can into the pot.  It’s what the pros on the Food Network told me to do.  Adds a certain metalicism to the dish.

Then I dumped in the pumpkin because why on earth would you want to leave a perfectly respectable black bean and sausage mixture as-is?  It could have gone on a tortilla or something and what fun is that? No, it’s fall and I bought about four cans of pumpkin in the middle of October because I had big pumpkin-baking dreams and now they are the only edible things I have left.  Plus, Rachael Ray honestly did tell me that Pumpkin and Black Bean soup is something you can really make. Dump it in.

That looks gross. 

So, from here I added the cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne.  I didn’t measure, I just shook the bottles over the pot.  If I were in a lessened state of desperation I would have dumped a little in my palm first so I had some idea about how much spice was in my food. Then I swiped a couple glugs of milk from a roomie.  I stirred, tasted, added some cinnamon, teeny bit of ginger, and a little squeeze of agave nectar.

Then I danced for joy because that bowl was edible.  I ate it.  Morale instantly improved.  It tasted like a squash soup with a spicy edge and a Henry Weinhardt’s aftertaste.  This soup totally did the trick.  I was full and my blood sugar (and therefor my mood) were rising.

Is it kind of strange? Yes.  Did it provide an economical solution to my problem? Absolutely.  Am I taking the leftovers to school tomorrow for lunch? Probably not, it started to smell like a wet dog.