When I was planning my POM Wonderful dinner, the question of dessert was something I worried about a lot. Recovering from dental surgery, I found myself cruising around the internet while planning the menu, just in case I was chosen. I was intrigued by a classic dessert, Floating Island. This Victorian era stunner consists of a soupy sort of creme anglaise pudding with little meringues or sometimes one big meringue floating on the top... ergo the Float in Floating Island. I was planning on doing this dessert with a saucy dash of pomegranate sauce. Oh, I was feeling saucy alright. I was on two different antibiotics, vicodin and a diet of Ensure and here I was signing up to make this insane dessert that I'd never even had. What's wrong with this picture? Try everything.
Then I was selected as one of 100 people chosen to host a POM Wonderful dinner. Things got real serious, real fast. I thought I'd better give a little more thought to my dessert plans. First of all, what did I know about Floating Island outside of a few Mary Poppins books I'd read as a kid and a late 19th century cookbook I'd once gotten my grubby mitts on? Zilch, zero, zip. After all it's not like it's something anybody finds on a menu anywhere anymore. I decided if I was going to serve this dish, I'd better like attempt it first. Like a dress rehearsal. The results? You be the judge.
Here are my meringues floating in simmering milk. Talk about the Floating Islands of Lost Souls...
I was looking for something that would go beautifully with the gorgeous pomegranates the POM Wonderful people had sent me. I decided on a rich, dark, flourless chocolate cake. I'd run across a recipe from Williams-Sonoma that looked perfect. Now I 'd never made one of these either, but I sure as hell have eaten it and I loved it. It turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would be... no rehearsal necessary.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Here's what I did:
I started with an 8 inch spring form pan. It turns out I'd bought one of these a few years ago, tucked it away in a cupboard and had forgotten all about it. Who knew?
Take the 8 inch pan and grease the sides and bottom with butter.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375 degrees and while it's heating up, it's time to prep the base of the cake.
Chop up 8 oz of bittersweet chocolate.
Valhrona chocolate for this cake.
Cut 1 stick of unsalted butter into pieces.
Seperate 4 eggs. Make sure they're cold right out of the fridge.
1 tsp of instant coffee dissolved in 2 Tbs of water
1 tsp of vanilla extract
Whisk them together until they're just blended. The pour the yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture and blend it all together.
set on medium, beat them together until it's all foamy and the cream of tartar is blended in. About a minute.
Turn it up to medium high until you have soft egg white peaks. About 3 minutes or so.
Add in 1/4 cup of sugar a bit at a time. Beat until the egg whites are shiny and stiff.
After about 30 minutes, run a thin knife around the rim of the pan and pop the sides. Let the cake continue to cool for another hour or so.
Prepare the Pomegranate Sauce. This was the one hold-over from the failed Floating Islands. I figured if the sauce would be good on that, it would be killer on a rich dark moist flourless chocolate cake. So I went for it. Here's what to do:
In a small pan or pot mix together
1 cup of POM Wonderful pomegranate juice
2 Tbs of sugar
2 tsp of cornstarch
Mix all of this together over a medium heat until it thickens and starts to bubble.
To serve the cake, ladle a pool of pomegranate sauce onto the plate.
Place a slice of cake into the center of the pomegranate sauce.
Top the cake with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream and scatter some fresh pomegranate arils over the cake...