This light and fruity tart made with fresh pomegranate seeds is perfect for any season and is so simple to make!
During Winter, pomegranates are sold in abundance and they become quite affordable. I got an EXTRA large pomegranate, almost the size of my head, for $2.50, so I saved a portion of it to make a chocolate pomegranate tart. I always enjoyed eating chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds so I knew the combination would work. Tarts are often dense, creamy, and quite filling, but I opted for something lighter so that I could eat it for dessert without feeling overly bloated like I would with a heavily creamy tart.
The tart consists of a subtly flavored chocolate tart flavored with cocoa powder, and a vanilla and pomegranate panna cotta-like layer. Panna cotta is an Italian dessert made from cream and gelatin and is somewhat of a pudding and jelly hybrid. It’s very light which is ideal for this recipe since the lightness of the panna cotta balances out the denser tart crust. Instead of cream, I used almond milk. However, if you would like more creaminess, you may use a fattier plant-based milk such as coconut milk.
Do keep in mind that you can absolutely make a non-vegan version of this tart! You would simply use non-vegan butter, milk, and gelatin instead of the plant-based ingredients listed below.
What is agar agar?
The key ingredient in this tart is agar, which works wonders just like gelatin except that it is a plant-based source and gelatin is not. Gelatin is made from animal collagen whereas agar is made from red algae. I have used both gelatin and agar, and in terms of solidifying properties, they result in an almost identical outcome. However, if you were going for visual properties such as a cake mirror glaze, gelatin would be the way to go since it is clearer than agar in appearance.
What pomegranate juice should I use?
The pomegranate juice I used for this recipe was Ocean Spray’s pomegranate-cranberry juice. I wanted to use POM pomegranate juice, but unfortunately the grocery store was out of the product. If desired, use POM pomegranate juice or freshly squeezed pomegranate juice for more pomegranate flavor. POM or freshly squeezed juice will be result in a more opaque layer than the one shown in the photo.
- This recipe is for a 9-in tart pan. I use Wilton tart pan with a removable bottom.
- As with any pie crust, the chocolate tart crust should be chilled for at least 2 hours before baking. Keeping butter-based doughs chilled are important in achieving flakiness. Chilling allows the butter granules to be distinct from flour which creates flakiness.
- The chilling period also allows the gluten in the dough to relax. This makes rolling the dough out easier.
- Tart crust tends to shrink when it is in the oven so rather than cutting the crust before it is baked, I cut the excess from the sides AFTER it is baked.
- Agar powder needs to bloom for 8-10 min in a liquid. Blooming results in a smoother texture and better strengthening properties. These points are noted in the directions.
- Agar needs to be cooked until simmering. When you see small bubbles, the agar can function properly. Do not boil the mixture as this can ruin the effectiveness of the agar.
- When pouring the pomegranate layer on top of the vanilla layer, make sure the mixture is cooled to room temperature, otherwise the hot mixture will melt the vanilla layer. Cool the mixture to room temperature but do not cool so much that the mixture hardens.
Vegan Chocolate Pomegranate Tart
yield: 9 in. tart
total cook time: 5 hrs.
For chocolate crust:
- 155 g. or 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 20 g. or 1/4 c. cocoa powder
- 39 g. or 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 g. or 1/8 tsp. salt
- 125 g. or 1 stick + 1 tbsp. unsalted vegan butter, chilled and cut into the chunks
- 60 g. or 4 tbsp. cold water
For vanilla layer:
- 300 g. or 1 1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk (refrigerated type)
- 39 g. or 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 4 g. or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 5 g. or 1 1/2 tsp. agar agar powder
For pomegranate layer:
- 245 g. or 1 c. pomegranate juice (Ocean Spray’s pomegranate-cranberry juice, POM pomegranate juice, or freshly squeezed)
- 5 g. or 1 tsp. agar agar powder
- pomegranate seeds to top
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture is mostly combined, with small chunks of pea-sized butter. Add in cold water, 1 tbsp. at a time, and incorporate that into the dough with the pastry cutter until pea sized pieces of butter are left. Make sure the dough is cold at all times and do not overwork the butter.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 390 F.
- Once the pie dough is chilled, use a rolling pin to roll it out into a large circle, about 11 inches in diameter. Transfer the dough over the tart tin and trim off the edges while leaving about 1 in. of extra dough around the tin edges. This is necessary since the dough will shrink when baked. Lightly poke holes on the bottom of the dough with a fork.
- Place a piece of parchment paper over the dough and place in baking weights or beans. Blind bake for 15 min. at 390 F. Remove crust from the oven and set aside to cool. Remove any excess dough on the side if present.
- To make the vanilla panna cotta layer, add the agar powder to 2 tbsp. almond milk from the 1 1/2 c. needed and whisk. Set aside for 8-10 min. to allow agar to bloom.
- In a small pot over medium heat, add the rest of the almond milk, sugar, and the bloomed agar mix. Whisk the mixture constantly until everything is dissolved and the mixture is simmering, but do not boil. Pour this mixture over the crust and chill for 1 hr. or until it sets.
- To make the pomegranate layer, add the agar powder to 2 tbsp. pomegranate juice from the 1 c. needed and whisk. Set aside for 8-10 min. to allow agar to bloom.
- In a small pot over medium heat, add the rest of the pomegranate juice, and bloomed agar mix. Whisk the mixture constantly until everything is dissolved and the mixture is simmering, but do not boil. Allow this mixture to cool to room temperature and then pour over the hardened vanilla layer. Add the pomegranate seeds on top and chill in the fridge for 1 hr. or until it sets.
- Serve the tart fresh and enjoy!
*Nutrition facts are estimates.
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