It is May in Boston. The sun is shining…the tulips have bloomed in the Public Gardens…the Charles River is dotted with sailboats and………it is STILL COLD!!!!! Hence, I am still trying to will the warm weather to grace us with its presence by creating light, summery desserts (“If you build it, he will come“). And what says summer and warm weather more than watermelon?
Several years ago I invented (or so I thought) a watermelon mojito made of pureed watermelon, mint simple syrup, lime juice, rum and club soda. Fast forward a year or two and I open a Barefoot Contessa cookbook only to find almost the same exact recipe! Obviously, she stole it from me. But all kidding and patent rights aside, it is a delicious and refreshing summer drink…so I decided to turn it into a sorbet…minus the alcohol (although now I’m having second thoughts about that, read on for further details about how alcohol contributes to the texture of sorbet and ice cream).
So I set out today to make a watermelon mint sorbet…and I think I ended up with more of a granita. A granita is more of a shaved ice texture and is made without an ice cream machine while a sorbet is generally smoother and denser. Although I was a bit disappointed with the final product due to the texture, it did still have a great flavor…and I happily ate it for dessert tonight while watching Game of Thrones (Daenerys is so badass!). However, I did decide to do some research into how to improve the texture of the sorbet. I found some advice on using gelatin or xantham gum, etc but decided to avoid going that route. Other people advised increasing the sugar content- this website instructs you to place a whole egg (unbroken) into your sorbet mixture and add sugar (in the form of simple syrup) to the mixture until the egg floats. And finally, you should add alcohol to lower the freezing point and prevent the sorbet from becoming too solid and “granita-like” as I experienced. I’ll have to re-experiment later this summer and report back. Click below for the recipe.
Watermelon Mint Sorbet
3 cups watermelon “juice” (from about 1 small, seedless watermelon cut, pureed and strained)
1/2 cup mint simple syrup (recipe to follow)
1/2 tsp salt
Mint simple syrup:
1/2 cup white, granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
few sprigs of mint (and extra for garnishing is desired)
To make the mint simple syrup, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Remove simple syrup from heat and add the sprigs of mint. Allow to sit for several minutes to allow the mint flavor to seep into the simple syrup. Remove and discard the mint leaves and cool the syrup.
To make the sorbet, combine the watermelon juice, mint simple syrup, juice from the 2 limes and salt in a large bowl. Refrigerate until cold, at least an hour. Pour into ice cream machine and proceed according to ice cream machine’s instructions. Sorbet at this point will resemble a slushy. Scoop into an air tight plastic container and freeze for at least 1 hour. Leave at room temperature for about 10 minutes prior to serving to make scooping easier.
The above is the recipe I used but feel free learn from my mistakes by adding 2 Tbs rum!