By Suzanne Corbett, Travel/Food Editor
When summer temperatures soar, I look for watermelon. Cool and refreshing, watermelon was the menu must have for summer picnics and July 4th parties. It remains the best treat ever to cool off the neighborhood’s sandlot ball players. The only other treat that vies for equal attention is ice cream.
While I could serve both separately, why not combine the two. That’s the recommendation from the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Yep, there’s a Watermelon Promotion Board, which takes watermelon seriously. And why not. Watermelon is a healthy treat best enjoyed right now when it’s in season.
To help celebrate the long July 4th weekend, the WPB has offers two recipes for STLSPortsPage.com fans to enjoy. Watermelon Gelato, which has about half the fat and fewer calories than traditional ice cream. And, Watermelon Ice Cream Bars, a baked treat that’s as refreshing as the gelato. Both watermelon desserts provide a bite of hydration with the power of watermelon, which is 92% water for a delicious way to rehydrate.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, daily fluid intake is defined as the amount of water consumed from foods, plain drinking water and other beverages, meaning you don’t have to rely only on what you drink to meet your fluid needs. Because what you eat also provides a significant portion of daily fluids, fruits and vegetables like watermelon can help you and your family stay hydrated for whatever summer days bring your way. Reason enough to embrace watermelon season, which hopefully last through the remainder of baseball season.
Watermelon Ice Cream Bars
3/4 cup watermelon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 cup honey
1 pinch salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut into small cubes
8 graham crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons honey
1 pinch salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
basil leaves, for garnish
1 cup heavy whipping cream
To make watermelon curd: In medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine watermelon juice, lime juice, honey, and salt. Stir to combine then add eggs.
Place pan over medium heat and cook, adding cubed butter to pan and stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats back of wooden spoon. Immediately remove from heat and carefully pour through fine mesh sieve. Cool completely in refrigerator.
To make crust: Preheat oven to 350 F.
In food processor, pulse graham crackers until rough crumbs form. Add honey, salt, and melted butter; pulse until mixture resembles wet sand.
Line 8-by-8-inch pan with parchment paper then press graham cracker mixture into bottom of pan in even layer. Bake crust about 10 minutes, or until just beginning to brown. Allow crust to cool completely.
2 cups pureed watermelon
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup fat-free half-and-half
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup whipping cream
In blender, blend watermelon, sugar, cornstarch, half-and-half, lemon juice and whipping cream until smooth.
Using ice cream maker, process gelato according to manufacturer’s instructions.
To make whipped cream: When crust and curd are completely cooled, in large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form.
Gently push cream to one side of bowl and pour in watermelon curd. Using spatula, gently fold cream and watermelon curd together until no streaks are visible.
Pour creamy watermelon mixture over graham cracker crust. Freeze dessert completely, 4-6 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, loosen sides with small spatula or butter knife. Turn out onto cutting board and use large spatula to flip so graham cracker crust is on bottom. Cut into eight bars and top each with basil leaf.