This is a happy marriage of two perfect summer desserts - the light and tangy yoghurt mousse just needs a bit of fruit to complete it; the granita made with the last of the cherries and the first of the pomegranates is refreshing and flavourful enough to have on its own. We use mahleb - a bittersweet spice that complements the flavours; use vanilla if you can't get hold of any mahleb. For best results use strained yoghurt - you can either buy it ready strained (like Total Greek yoghurt) or hang 500g of natural yogurt in some cheesecloth over a bowl for 2 hours to yield 300g of strained. Start the granita at least a day in advance as it takes time to freeze, but once made will keep in the freezer for 2 weeks.
For the granita
● 2 pomegranates
● 250g cherries
● 2 tbsp sugar
● 2 tbsp boiling water
● Juice of lemon (1 tbsp)
● Juice of ½ orange (2 tbsp)
For the mousse:
● 2 egg whites
● 60g honey
● 300g strained yoghurt
● 1 tsp ground mahleb
● Crack one pomegranate open and remove 3-4 tablespoons of the seeds to serve with the finished dessert later on.
● Squeeze the juice from the remainder of that pomegranate and from the whole one; this is very easy - use a citrus press, or a home juicer or just press the pomegranates until all the little seeds explode and let out their juice.
● Reserve about 12-14 cherries for garnish and stone the rest.
● Purée the stoned cherries with the pomegranate juice, sugar, water, lemon juice and orange juice.
● Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl or plastic container and place in the freezer. After an hour use a fork to smash it up.
● Return to the freezer and repeat 3-4 times until the juice is all frozen into lovely crystals.
● For the mousse - place the egg whites in a mixer bowl with a whisk attachment and whisk until they start to go white and fluffy. Heat the honey in a small pan till it boils, then pour into the whites in a steady drizzle. Continue whisking until the mixture forms a strong shiny meringue.
● In a separate bowl mix the yoghurt and mahleb. Take a spoonful of the meringue and stir through to release the yoghurt a little, then carefully fold the rest of the meringue into the yoghurt. Spoon into a glass serving bowl, or individual dishes or glasses, and chill the mousse until ready to serve.
● To serve, scoop the granita onto the yoghurt mousse and decorate with the reserved cherries and pomegranate seeds.
Recipe adapted from Honey & Co: Food from the Middle East by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer, Saltyard Books, £25