Special equipment: a deep-fry thermometer, a piping bag and a round ladle
For the funnel cake: Pour the oil in a heavy stockpot and heat until a deep-fry thermometer inserted in the oil registers 375 degrees F.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld electric mixer, beat the sugar and eggs together. With the mixer on low, add the milk slowly and mix to combine. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat until smooth. Pour the batter into a piping bag.
Slightly submerge a round ladle in the hot oil and pipe the batter into the ladle (this will create the round look of the brain). Cook until slightly brown, 3 to 4 minutes, then transfer to a paper towel to drain. Continue with the remaining batter.
For the pomegranate glaze: Put the pomegranate juice, cinnamon stick, orange zest and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook at a slow boil until reduced by one-third, 12 to 14 minutes. Strain and let cool.
For the walnut cream: Bring the cream, sugar and vanilla to a boil in a saucepan. Add the egg yolks and cook, whisking, until slightly thickened. Add a splash of cognac to taste. Strain the mixture into a bowl and cool in an ice bath. Stir the crushed walnuts into the cooled cream.
To assemble, glaze the warm funnel cakes with the pomegranate glaze and serve on top of the walnut cream.
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. It has not been tested for home use.