As I mentioned in the About Me page, I spent half of last summer traveling around Italy and had the time of my life. I took a fascinating class on on ancient Roman cuisine, met new people, saw new places, and of course…ate. I’ve never experienced so much pleasure and enjoyment out of food, wine, and coffee in my entire life, and it has influenced the way I cook, bake, and eat ever since.
I got to know a fellow food/cooking enthusiast, Sara, while on the trip, and she is currently applying to be a writer for a food magazine. To gain exposure for both her fabulous baking skills and for this blog, I am posting her original recipe for an Italian-inspired Pomegranate Panna Cotta Cheesecake, perfect for the holidays!
Pomegranate Panna Cotta Cheesecake
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 2 8-oz blocks cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 16-oz carton sour cream
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups pomegranate seeds (also called arils)
- Pomegranate Sauce (optional):
- 1 bottle POM Wonderful pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
First, to make the crust, combine 2 cups graham cracker crumbs and 3 tablespoons light brown sugar in a bowl. Add 1 melted stick of butter and mix together until it reaches a thick consistency. Press down thinly into a pan so it covers the entire bottom and 2/3 of the way up the edges. Another option is to create your cheesecake in muffin tins for fun cheesecake bites that allow for portion control. Bake crust for 10 minutes.
Next, to make the filling, in a large bowl mix together 2 packets of room-temperature cream cheese, 1/2 cup of butter, 2 cups granulated sugar, one 16-ounce carton of sour cream, one cup of heavy cream, 1 tablespoon of vanilla, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 3 eggs, and 1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour. You will want to use a mixer between each added ingredient because it can be tough to mix it all together at the end. Once it reaches a smooth consistency, add in 2 cups of pomegranate seeds.
Lastly, pour the filling into the crust-lined pan. Bake for about 40 minutes if you want a creamier consistency, or 60 for a more cakey texture. It should still jiggle in the middle when moving it – that’s a great indicator to tell when it’s ready.
Remove from oven and let cool, then refrigerate for at least one hour.
OPTIONAL POMEGRANATE SAUCE:
This tasty drizzle gives the cake a beautiful flavor and the rich color pomegranates are loved for. Pour one bottle of Pom pomegranate juice into a saucepan and bring to boil (about 10-12 minutes). Add 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, mixing until it reaches a thick bubbly consistency (about 2 minutes). Transfer to bowl and refrigerate.
Once both cake and sauce are chilled, cover cake with pomegranate sauce for a delicious, colorful, light yet tasteful dessert that will surely impress any crowd.