Friday, August 5, 2011

Greetings From the Surface of the Sun!!




That sound you hear isn't me sweating. It isn't my husband sweating, or even our little dog (he can't, poor thing). It's literally the liquid sound of the salty remnants of our sanity draining away slowly, one agonizing drop at a time. It's August in Phoenix, and it's HOT, and I don't want to eat anything but frozen treats.

With that in's a perfect time for fruit sorbets! Nothing says summer like frozen watermelon with a hint of lime. This recipe will give you a delicious, cooling confection to help battle the summer blues, whether or not you have an ice cream maker (we actually don't--bad foodies!).

We had some adorable mini watermelons (I also like the term seen in the produce section of the local Asian supermarket where we purchased these: 'personal watermelon,' but it makes me giggle. It just sounds so....I don't know, intimate? This is my personal watermelon. Hee hee.), so I used those. Bonus bowl afterwards!

I recommend serving a scoop of watermelon sorbet nestled next to a creamy scoop of Haagen Dazs lemon ice cream, with a sprig of mint, in your own personal watermelon bowl. Bliss.

Fresh Watermelon Sorbet

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
5 cups fresh seedless watermelon chunks
6 tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice

Bring the sugar and water just to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved--do not stir or you will introduce sugar crystals and everything will get weird. Trust me. Set aside in a bowl until completely cool.

Put the watermelon chunks and the lime juice into a blender or food processor. Pulse several times to chop the melon and then process until the fruit is completely pureed. Press melon puree through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds and any extra pulp. Combine with the cooled sugar syrup. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

If you have an ice cream maker, pour the watermelon mixture into the freezer bowl, and process according to your manufacturer's instructions. If you don't have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into a 9" x 13" pan and set in the freezer. Using a fork, stir the ice crystals at least once every hour for the next three hours, making sure to scrape the crystals from the side of the pan (where they will form first) and re-introduce them to the rest of the mixture. Freeze overnight. The next day, before serving, scoop out the desired quantity for serving and blend in food processor until soft*. Serve, & enjoy the cooling goodness!

(*This is one of those times when I can really see the use for a kitchen gadget, i.e., an ice cream maker. After all, ice cream or sorbet made in a machine intended for that purpose is smooth, evenly textured and lovely, because the machine continually churns air into the mixture as it's freezing. Technically, what you're making by using the pan-and-stirring-with-fork method is a granita, equally lovely tasting, but a lot coarser in texture, more like a snow cone. Putting it in the food processor the next days helps to incorporate some air and makes the texture finer, but you may need to stick it back in the freezer for a few minutes afterwards to firm it back up a little. Takes a little extra work this way, but it does taste delicious.)

I had some textural issues with this sorbet, mostly due to the fact that we don't have a proper ice cream maker. The mixture froze absolutely solid in its container, and was a real pain to chip out for serving. I'd like to experiment with some additives to keep it from freezing solid and hopefully maintain a smoother, softer texture. Gelatin, maybe, or a splash of vodka or sparkling wine? I'll keep you posted. But, not wanting to waste our precious frozen personal watermelon mixture, we ate it once as sorbet and from then on just threw chunks of it into the blender with limeade to make......FROZEN WATERMELON LIMEADE. Which, I'm telling you, is an instant summer classic.

Serve in a tall glass with bendy straw. :)