A Sticky Situation

Have you ever heard the advice that you should lay off those plans to prepare any new and potentially disastrous recipe when expecting company?  I sure have, from countless sources on numerous occasions, but you would need to chain me down and keep me out of the kitchen altogether to prevent that from happening.  Guests, you say; Intelligent, food-loving guinea pigs, I say.  What better time could there possibly be to whip out something experimental and exciting than when you can collect a dozen opinions at a time?  Dinner parties are really just elaborate excuses to pull taste-testers into the house, right?  Sure, people might get hungry and cranky when things go wrong (and oh, do they ever,) and you certainly wouldn’t win the Hostess of the Year award, but I for one can’t resist the temptation.

Thankfully, since I only take charge of dessert most of the time, no one starves around here, but the awkward situation remains the same. What should one do if the dessert sucks? Throw it on the floor and hope the dog scoops it up before anyone notices? Say flat out how horrible it was?

Or just choose one redeeming aspect of it, and pretend like the rest doesn’t even take up space on the same plate. That’s the one I usually get, and that’s why I’m only posting the filling of this tart that was made for Hannukah dinner this past Saturday.

Super sweet and only barely offset by the tangy flavors of pomegranate and orange, the thinnest sliver of this little number will do you. In fact, you could quite happily prepare the filling without a crust, pouring it into a jar and using it as a caramel sauce instead. That’s the thing though- This crust, which you can easily see by the photo, was way too thick and tough. Should you decide to go the tart route as well, just use your favorite pie crust and there won’t be any awkward moments of silence at the dinner table while all of your guests try fruitlessly to stab and sever that brick-like shell at the bottom of their plates.

Pomegranate Caramel [Tart Filling or Sauce]

1/2 Cup Unsweetened, 100% Pomegranate Juice
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Pomegranate Molasses
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Margarine, Cut into Small Cubes
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
2 Teaspoons Orange Zest

Place a medium saucepan with high sides over moderate heat, and combine the pomegranate juice, sugar, pomegranate molasses, and salt inside. Cover with a lid until it reaches a boil (be very careful to pay attention to it, lest you walk away at the precise moment it bubbles up and over the pan… Not like I know about this.) Remove the lid, insert a candy thermometer, and cook the mixture, swirling the pan occasionally to mix, until it reaches 248 – 250 degrees.

Add in the margarine and coconut milk, standing back from the stove in case it should splash and sputter, and stir the mixture until combined. Continue to cook it until it returns to 248 degrees, and then turn off the heat. Immediately add the orange zest and pour into a pre-baked 9-inch tart shell to make the dessert, or a number of glass jars if to use it as caramel sauce. You will probably have a little extra caramel left over if using a tart shell too, so have a jar out just in case.

Let cool completely, and chill the tart thoroughly before serving. Drizzle with chocolate ganache if desired. Keep the leftover tart chilled, or else the filling is liable to slide right out of its crust at room temperature.

Seal jars of caramel sauce well and store in the fridge. Heat briefly in the microwave before stirring and serving.

One Tart Serves 18 – 24; Makes 2 1/2 – 3 Cups Caramel Sauce

Printable Recipe