Please excuse picture quality. It was taken with a camera phone.
It was near midnight when a friend ushered me into his kitchen and whipped out some tasting spoons. “I have some thing to show you,” he said. So I gathered round, and my friend poured a ruby-red liquid into my spoon. I was hypnotized: this syrup had the richness of cherries and tartness of raspberries. It was pomegranate molasses.
Made from the boiled-down juice of pomegranates, this ingredient is common in Middle Eastern foods, pairing with lentils, lamb, and red pepper (in muhammara). It has applications for dessert as well, cutting through richness and sweetness. For example, it pairs beautifully with frozen yogurt and buttermilk pancakes. The good brands also don’t add sugar, which is ideal if you’re trying to limit processed foods. You can also make your own, but I don’t think it’s worth the effort.
I thought pomegranate molasses would go well with cheesecake, so I took my favorite low-fat cheesecake recipe and substituted Greek yogurt for the puréed cottage cheese. It was even easier than the original, since you didn’t have to blend the cottage cheese in a food processor. The cheesecake was silky smooth, and everyone clamored for seconds.
Greek-Yogurt Cheesecake with Pomegranate Molasses
For graham cracker crust
1 1/4 cup fine graham cracker crumbs (recommended brand: Midel)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
For cheesecake base
2 cups 2% Greek yogurt (recommended brand: Fage)
8 ounces reduced-fat Neufchâtel cream cheese, at room temperature
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons strained lemon juice
1/4 teaspoons salt
For sour cream topping
16 ounces sour cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
- Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350° F. Fit a round piece of parchment paper in the bottom of an 8-inch round springform pan and grease the sides. Line the outside of the pan with plenty of foil. Boil a kettle of water.
- Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter with a fork until all ingredients are moistened. Spread the mixture evenly in the pan. Using your fingertips or the flat bottom of a glass cup, press the mixture firmly over the bottom of the pan.
- Bake until the crust’s lightly browned and firm, 10 to 15 minutes.
Make filling and bake cake:
- Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. On low speed, add Greek yogurt and eggs, one at a time; then sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt, scraping down bowl between each addition. Pour the filling into the crust.
- Place the cheesecake pan in large baking dish set on an oven rack. Carefully pour boiling water around the pan to a depth of about 1 inch. Gently slide the oven rack in to avoid splashing water. Bake until cheesecake has puffed and risen slightly and is just beginning to pull away from the edges of the pan, about 40 to 45 minutes. Leave the oven on.
- Stir together sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. Drop by spoonfuls around the edge of the cake and spread gently over the center, smoothing evenly. Bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove cheesecake from water bath and set on rack to cool. Run knife around the edge of the cake to loosen. When cool, cover and chill for at least 12 hours or up to 2 days.
Unmold and serve:
- Remove side from the pan and transfer to a plate. Cut with a sharp thin knife, dipping in hot water and wiping dry between each cut. Drizzle pomegranate molasses on top of each slice.
- Bake in an 8-inch springform pan. Omit the sour cream topping and substitute the crust with 3-4 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs. After unmolding, press the crumbs around the side of the cake.