Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pomegranate Kefir Mousse (No-Bake, Egg-free)

Stella and I walk past a blooming pomegranate tree every morning.

We stop to admire the new fruit, the crown shaped tips and crimson tones.  The changes are slight but notable day by day. We've not yet met the owners but we keep a look out. I can't help but wonder whether they'll harvest the burgeoning fruit that appears to be hitting it's prime.  If I discover these jewels rolling on the ground one day (and eventually rotting) I'm coming back with a big bag!

I'm still in a state of awe and wonder over the diversity of growth and staggering beauty that surrounds us here in northern California.

When we first arrived we were overcome by the citrus fruit - first lemons, then limes and finally a bounty of oranges.  I thought I had seen it all. Now we are being treated to persimmons and pomegranates.  Incredible.  It reminds me of my husband's observation the first week we arrived: "it's as though every plant in the universe wants to grow here" -- that pretty much sums it up.

Most pomegranates available in stores in North America are grown in California. They have a short but delightful season that spans from late September through November and with good storage techniques, the fruit can be available into January some years.

Beyond the fruit's striking beauty and mildly tart and delicious taste, pomegranate juice contains potent antioxidants that have been the subject of numerous promising cancer studies over the years. Pomegranate also supplies good amounts of potassium, vitamin C and fibre.   

Today, I'm celebrating this regal fruit with a light and luscious dessert that also happens to be replete with probiotic cultures and protein thanks to its *Kefir cheese base (see Nutrition Notes below for more information on Kefir).

Though it doesn't contain eggs or cream (nor large whipped air bubbles) I am nevertheless calling this little delight a mousse because its texture best resembles that of mousse. It has a mildly tart/tangy taste and gentle sweetness (not overwhelming) along with a soft and silky consistency -- ( If I wasn't such a devout chocolate fan, I might be compelled to say that this was my new favourite mousse. (Let's just say it's my new favourite non-chocolate mousse).  

Perfect for guests served up in fancy glass or stemware with a dollop of cream if you like or as a week night treat in everyday bowls.  It's all about refrigeration time.  The mousse itself will take you about 10 minutes to prepare.  The longer it sits in the fridge, the firmer it will get though; best eaten on day one to avoid rubberization (I'm pretty sure that's a word).

Pomegranate Kefir Mousse

Pomegranate Kefir Mousse (No-Bake, Egg-Free)
  • 2 cups of pure pomegranate juice
  • 1 Tbsp gelatin powder
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups Kefir cheese (or other soft quality cheese or yogurt such as quark, ricotta or Greek yogurt)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup or so pomegranate seeds (arils)

Serves 4

Nutrition & Cooking Notes:
  1. Kefir is simply a fermented milk product (much like yogurt) that is rich in protein, calcium, B vitamins and potassium. 
  2. Kefir is often sold as a beverage and typically has a thinner consistency than yogurt. The big difference between Kefir and yogurt is in the number of active cultures they contain. Kefir typically contains 3 times the amount of probiotic cultures (friendly bacteria) as yogurt. Probiotic cultures help inhibit the growth of unfriendly, disease-causing bacteria while stimulating digestion and the body's immune system. 
  3. Kefir cheese is a soft and smooth cheese - easily spreadable - made from the Kefir milk product.  It has a much higher quality nutrition profile than other soft cheeses, notably cream cheese, and it tastes better too!  (I've always found cream cheese a bit on the plastic side taste wise - overly processed). I'd like to try making my own Kefir cheese some day.
  4. Those who are lactose intolerant may find it easier to tolerate Kefir beverage, Kefir cheese and yogurt because the live cultures used to make them break down the milk sugar (pre-digesting the sugar for you!).
  1. In a large bowl, place ¼ cup pomegranate juice and add the gelatin powder. Allow the mixture to sit and hydrate (or "bloom"). It will become temporarily hard.
  2. Meanwhile, bring the remaining pomegranate juice and maple syrup to a gentle boil on the stove top. Remove the mixture from heat and carefully add it to the gelatin mixture whisking until the gelatin is fully dissolved.
  3. Add vanilla and kefir cheese to the warm pomegranate mixture, whisking to combine all ingredients until the kefir cheese is integrated and smooth.  The pomegranate cheesecake mixture will take on a beautiful antique rose hue.
  4. Pour the cheesecake mixture into individual glasses or bowls and refrigerate until firm (about 3-4 hours). 
  5. Before serving, sprinkle the cheesecakes with pomegranate seeds -- enjoy!

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the beautiful pomegranate tree we admire on our daily walks - love the benches!

the mousse has an antique rose colour - so pretty!

crowning beauty


  1. Sandra @ Kitchen ApparelNovember 7, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    Wow...look at that tree! There are tons of pomegranates there...I'd be grabbing one of those so fast (but I wonder how you tell if they are ripe?) This mousse sounds so elegant and fancy. What a perfect dessert for a dinner party. I don't think I'd have any problem eating the whole batch in one day ;)

  2. Years ago my granddad taught me that when you see fruit rotting on the tree, knock on the door and ask to collect it. So far, I'm 4 for 4 with the home owners saying , "please, take all you want!" :) What a great mousse that you made with the pomegranates. So creamy and I bet it feels good on the tongue not to say how good it taste. Lovely recipe!

  3. thank you so much for your sage advice MJ! This is a whole new world to me and I'm tiptoeing at this stage (it does seem that many trees remain unharvested though :( -- I'll have to start practicing my knocking skills! :)

  4. Such a beautiful pomegranate tree! The mousse must be amazing.

  5. Emilie@TheCleverCarrotNovember 8, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    This sounds absolutely delightful Kelly! I am very much in love with the pomegranate. And you're husband has a point, I would want to grow there too! Just lovely xx

  6. Sissi_Withaglass.comNovember 9, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    It sounds exactly like my staple yogurt/quark mousses I keep on preparing especially on warm days! In the summer I prepare a big batch for the whole week and have it for breakfast, as a snack, guiltless dessert... My photographs however cannot even be compared to yours! I cannot take my eyes off the gorgeous glass of mousse... I wish pomegranates grew here too! You are lucky to have moved to such a warm part of the US.

  7. Beautiful Kelly - I have never seen a pomegranate tree before, how cool is that! Love your mousse!

  8. Gintare @GourmantineNovember 11, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    I've never heard of kefir cheese before sounds really interesting. We have plenty of pomegranates now everywhere it's such a lovely use for them :)

  9. So jealous of all the bounties (and weather) you have in Northern California!! i hope that you get to enjoy some of those pomegranates :) This mousse sounds delicious! I love that you used kefir...I'm guessing it gives it a tartness, which is my favorite type of dessert.

  10. Kelly, what a sight that pomegranate tree is! I've never seen one before; so beautiful and out of the ordinary. Your head must be constantly turning during your walks (I wonder if Stella realizes she's in a different climate? :). Lucky you to be enjoying this experience. I didn't even realize that kefir cheese existed -- what a great discovery! I'm a fan of the beverage so I'm very intrigued. And this pomegranate mousse is just about the prettiest little dessert I can imagine; a perfect way for me to start exploring kefir cheese... thank you.


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