I’ve never actually had pomegranate ice cream or frozen yogurt before, but always had it in the back of my mind. As I’d read about it though, it seems to be quite popular with some upper-scale ice cream/frozen yogurt joints like Pinkberry and Red Mango. However, nearly everything I’ve read about pomegranate frozen treats (both commercial and home-made) all had the same review: too subtle and almost indistinguishable pomegranate flavor. This was a downer, but I was still determined to try my hand at it, so I thought I’d try to pump up the pomegranate flavor by focusing on supporting flavors to enhance it (sort of like balsamic and strawberry, chocolate and chili, etc) rather than just throwing more pomegranate at it.
Much to my delight, my gambit worked out better than I had expected. I infused the pomegranate juice with both fresh mint and green cardamom–enough to add a flavor of intrigue, but not so much that either of these additives took over (although they both certainly work beautifully on their own). This combination in itself is surprisingly harmonious and very enjoyable–tart, spicy, and in contradiction: refreshing and sweet.
Of course, pomegranate on its own, is both tart and tannic, so sweetening things up is important. While sugar is involved, I chose to add a handful of other sweeteners that add another level of complexity to this flavor: honey and a Port/balsamic reduction. With a foundation of yogurt, you’ve got an incredible frozen yogurt (which I refuse to call “froyo”).
And if you’d prefer ice cream instead of frozen yogurt, tweaking this wouldn’t be hard. Its just been so long since I last made any kind of frozen yogurt, so it seemed fitting that I mix up my ice cream habit a bit, and personally, I think the tang of yogurt really adds to this in a way that cream/milk wouldn’t.
So, total disclosure: I received this stockpile of pomegranate juice courtesy of POM Wonderful. I love pomegranate, but I tend not to use it much in my cooking simply because harvesting the juice from the fruit can be a slow, messy, maddening experience. Opening a bottle is far simpler. Also, much to my delight, the bottled juice tastes great and is the real deal (unlike all of the other “real fruit juice” out there which is 1% juice). But enough shilling and on to the cooking, LOL!
- 3 cups pomegranate juice
- 1/2 cup fresh mint
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup port
- 1/4 cup balsamic
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1.25 cups greek yogurt
In a saucepan, add the pomegranate juice, coarsely chopped mint, and smashed cardamom pods. Warm this just shy of simmering over medium heat, then cover, remove from heat, an let this steep for an hour to extract some flavor from the mint and cardamom.
Once time is up, strain the mixture and discard the solids. Add the sugar and reduce this over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring on occasion to ensure the sugar dissolves. The idea is to take out some of the water (which would freeze too hard for a nice frozen yogurt texture) and to make this slightly more syruppy. Set this aside.
In a clean pan, add the balsamic and Port, reducing over medium heat until syruppy and sweet tasting (take care not to burn it though–stir periodically). This should reduce to roughly 1/8-1/4 cup in volume. Pour this into the pomegranate juice mixture along with the honey. All three act as sweeteners, but they bring a whole lot more depth than plain old sugar. Mix well and set this aside to cool down to room temperature (or speed it up in the fridge/ice bath).
Once cooled down, whiz this mixture with the yogurt in a food processor. Transfer this mixture to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for several hours.
With everything ready to go, churn this in your ice cream maker for 20-30 minutes and set it in your freezer overnight to firm up.