There are few gifts that I still appreciate about my strict French school. One of them is the magic pass that it handed to me early on in my childhood to savor French music. To me, Charles Aznavour’s lyrics always stand out as a voyage into an ocean of meanings, shades and nuances. His songs, precisely resemble the spectacularly picturesque streets of Paris. Every time you revisit them a new enchanting detail reveals itself. The chef-d’oeuvre songs of Aznavour have a peculiar nature of being at once sagacious, complex and immortal.
When it comes to Aznavour, I always had two wishes. The first one was to attend one of his live concerts. Luckily, this one materialised! For over two hours I watched him live – as if in a daydream on the stage of the Olympia concert hall. With unmatched agility, at the age of 86, he was performing, dancing and enchanting the audience, which was in a complete state of ecstasy.
The second wish or dream was to host him chez moi for dinner. Although that wish was harder realize! Yet, I always wished to tell him in person how much he enriched my existence. To my generation, Aznavour was more than a legendary singer. He is the epitome of the immigrant’s resilience, the polished worked of innate talent, the humble grandeur and the effortless class. No wonder his passing, regardless his advanced age, was abrupt, disheartening and shocking to me and to millions around the world! It genuinely felt like losing the head of one’s family!
His songs were and still here in the background of my life to celebrate and lament either the fortuitous or morose events. Even past the romantic stage in my life, during my most hectic and never-ending days as a stay at home mom, his velvet voice remained a decorous refuge, where I put myself back together, recharged, and improve my mood.
The choice of this cake ingredients and layers has much to do with his views. I chose pomegranate, which is the symbol of Armenia, the country that never went out his sight or mind. Aznavour is born to Armenian parents who fled to Marseille aboard an Italian boat. Although Aznavour was born in 1924 in Paris, rue de prince. A patriot, he never stopped promoting his country of origin, and enthusiastically supporting its efforts to develop and grow. In the aftermath of the devastating 1988 earthquake that killed at least 25,000 people Aznavour founded the charitable organization “Aznavour for Armenia” and led a significant humanitarian effort to raise awareness and funds for the victims.
I scented the pomegranate syrup and jelly with rose water to honour his predilection for Turkish cuisine that he described in his memoirs as the best cuisine in the Middle East.
It is a light three-layer cake. Each layer has a distinct texture, aroma and flavor. A buttery thin crust, which is topped with a tart rose water-scented pomegranate jello. A snow-like and airy sweetened swirls of whipped cream, which proudly sit atop the cake like the tip of Mount Ararat.
Similar to the layers of emotions in Aznavour songs, the layers of this cake all complement one another in a harmonious symphony of taste.
Pomegranate – Rose Water Jello Cake
Serves 6-8 people
- 1 3/4 cups butter cookies or digestive cookies, crushed
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 4 cups pomegranate juice
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons pectin
- 1 tablespoon rose water
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon of light corn syrup
- Add the melted butter to the crushed cookies. Combine well and press the mixture into a detachable base cake mold (see note).
- Blind-bake the crust for 10 to 15 minutes in a 350 F preheated oven.
- Let it come to room temperature and then place it in the fridge.
- Combine the pomegranate juice, sugar, and pectin over a medium heat. keep stirring until all sugar and pectin are dissolved. Once the mixture starts to thicken, turn off the heat and add the rose water.
- let the jello cool completely. Pour it over the cold crust, even it with an offset spatula, and place in the fridge
- Place mixer bowl and whisk in freezer for at least 30 minutes to chill.
- Pour heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla into the cold bowl and whisk, on high-speed, until medium to stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. Do not over beat, or you will end up making homemade butter.
- Keep it in the fridge until the cake is ready for serving.
- Mix pomegranate juice, water, and sugar and light corn syrup in medium sauce pan over medium heat and stir until all sugar is dissolved.
- Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes until it thickens.
Assemble the Cake
- When the jello is set, add dollops of whipping cream to the surface of the jello cake while it is still in the mold.
- Form swirls using an offset spatula.
- Unmold the cake. Sprinkle the pomegranate seed, drizzle the pomegranate syrup on top and serve the rest on the side.