Pomegranates are juicy, sweet and the seeds are fairly bursting with flavor. When buying, look for pomegranates with a bright red skin without blemishes and that feel heavy for their size.
To easily remove the seeds, also called arils, first cut off the crown of the pomegranate, and then score the rind from top to bottom in several places without cutting all the way through. Immerse the pomegranate in a bowl of cold water, upside down, for about 10 minutes, and then break the pomegranate apart and remove the seeds from the white membrane. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the rind and membrane will float to the top. Use a sieve to remove the rind and membrane. Pour seeds into a colander to drain, and then dry with paper toweling. The seeds can be eaten or used immediately or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup sour cream, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds/arils
- 1½ cups sour cream, room temperature
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 16-ounce jar (2 cups) pomegranate juice
- ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Few pomegranate seeds/arils
- In a medium bowl, combine butter and brown sugar; use an electric mixer or wooden spoon and beat together until mixture is smooth. Add egg; beat until thoroughly mixed. Add flour; stir until well mixed. Divide dough in half. Cover and set aside one portion of dough until needed.
- Using a small offset spatula or rubber spatula, spread half the dough over the bottom of the pan, spreading to the edge.
- Bake: Place the pan on a baking sheet; bake 10 minutes or until very light golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire cooling rack to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
- Attach side of the springform pan to the bottom. Brush the sides of the springform pan, above the baked crust, with the remaining ½ tablespoon melted butter. Spread the reserved dough about 2 inches up the sides of the pan.
- In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, lemon zest, and sugar; mix on medium low speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly and there are no lumps.
- Add the sour cream, vanilla, and flour; continue beating on medium low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition; Tip: crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the cheese mixture. Stir in the pomegranate seeds. Tip: Do not overbeat the cheesecake batter. Blend the ingredients quickly to add as few air bubbles as possible. The ingredients must be well blended, but excessive beating creates too many air pockets which can cause the cheesecake to puff up too much during baking, and then crack during the cooling process.
- Let the filling rest about 5 minutes to allow air bubbles to rise to the surface.
- Bake: Pour the filling into cookie crust. Place the pan on a baking sheet with ½ inch sides to catch any leakage. Bake 65 to 70 minutes. Remove from oven. Tip: The Cheesecake is done when the edges are set but the center 2 to 3 inches are still a pool of liquid batter. The cake should look as though it has puffed a little and just barely beginning to brown. The center will still be soft and jiggly when the pan is lightly jarred or tapped with a spoon.
- In a small bowl, combine sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. Spread it evenly over the surface of the hot cheesecake. Tip: Spoon topping around the edges of the cheesecake and carefully spread toward the center.
- Bake: Return cheesecake to the oven, Bake for 10 minutes to set the topping. Remove from oven, and place on a wire cooling rack to finish cooling completely. Immediately run a thin knife around the edge of the pan, gently pressing into the side of the pan to avoid gouging the cake. This allows the cake to contract away from the sides of the pan as it cools, helping to prevent cracks.
- When cheesecake is completely cooled, cover the pan and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours before serving. Try to avoid having the covering touch the top of the cheesecake as this may mar the surface.
- In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.
- In a medium heavy saucepan, bring the pomegranate juice to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, until the juice is reduced to 1 cup, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir the brown sugar mixture into the reduced juice, increase heat until mixture is boiling. Boil and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Tip: to determine when the juice is reduced to 1 cup, when you are initially pouring the juice into the saucepan to cook, pour only 1 cup into the pan. Insert a toothpick into the juice and then mark the toothpick with a small cut or permanent marker to show the 1 cup level. Pour the remaining juice into the pan; boil the juice to reduce to the marking on the toothpick.
- Transfer sauce to a small bowl and cool to room temperature. When cooled, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The sauce will thicken a bit more as it chills.
- When ready to serve, spoon some of the chilled pomegranate sauce on top of the cheesecake. Sprinkle a few pomegranate seeds on top as garnish. Serve extra sauce and pomegranate seeds with each individual serving.