Introduction: Sweet & Sour Watermelon-Lemon Dessert Bars
One of the things I remember doing outside on a summer evening when I was younger (think the 80's) was sitting on the porch with my brother and spitting watermelon seeds out on the ground as we savored the juicy red fruit to cool off and get our "dessert" before going to bed.
Back then I don't remember or really know why seedless watermelon wasn't available to me but if I had to guess, it was probably because it was too expensive for my mom to purchase.
Now as a grown up, I have a great job (hence the ability to purchase seedless watermelon,) Pinterest, an opportunity to try new recipes in the comfort of my own kitchen, and thanks to Instructables, the ability to share them with all of you.
It seems almost childish to say that watermelon has got to be my favorite fruit, but as I learned by preparing this recipe, I know why my mom would just cut it up into wedges and my brother and I would eat it straight - it takes a significant amount of time to juice a watermelon.
What I will say about this recipe is that it cooled me down from a hot summer's evening, and brought back the memories of when I was a child eating watermelon with my brother on the porch.
I got this recipe off of Pinterest and the total cost was probably about $8 for 12 to 18 squares. The total prep time was about 1-hour, but I was taking photos during that time. The gelatinous mixture can be placed in the freezer to set for about 2 to 2-1/2 hours or in the refrigerator for about 4 hours.
Step 1: Ingredients & Tools
I've included a printable recipe card in the first step of this Instructable.
- 12 oz. round vanilla wafer or vanilla flavored cookies
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons water
- 5 cups watermelon juice, separated (Step 3) - I used just over a half of a watermelon
- 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice - from five (5) lemons
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 1 oz. unflavored gelatin (4 packs in my case)
- confectioners’ sugar or whipped cream, optional for garnish
Utensils & Tools
- blender (for watermelon juice)
- sieve & measuring cups (for watermelon juice)
- wooden spoon
- food processor (or blender)
- one 13x9 pan or two-8x8 pans*
- cooking spray
*Note: Currently in my home we are trying to not utilize the oven. I used two 8 x 8 glass pans instead of 13 x 9 pan to fit in my Nuwave Tabletop Oven. The crust did not fit edge to edge in two pans perfectly, but it was close enough.
Step 2: Prepare the Crust
If you are using an oven, pre-heat the oven to 350-degrees F.
Melt the butter. I do this by setting the 6-tablespoons in a microwaveable bowl for 20-30 seconds.
Grind up the cookies using a food processor or blender. I have a mini-food processor, so I had to grind the cookies in two batches. (It added some time to the process I'm sure.)
Mix the melted butter with the ground up cookies and the 2 tablespoons of water until thoroughly moistened.
Line the 13 x 9 pan or the two 8x8 pans with foil, so that there is overhang on either side of the pan for easy removal.
Spray the foil with cooking spray.
Place the crust mixture into the bottom of the pan (or pans) and spread around.
Bake the crust for 20-minutes.
In the Nuwave, I baked each pan of crust for 10-minutes on high.
Allow to cool prior to filling.
Step 3: Prepare the Watermelon Juice
I followed this Instructable to make my own watermelon juice, but I did not add any sugar.
Here's the process in a nutshell and if you have any questions, go look at the Watermelon Juice Instructable by Paige Russell.
Cut the watermelon into wedges.
Using the blender, process the watermelon into a liquid. I had to use a wooden spoon to push down the watermelon wedges closer to the blade.
Pour the blended liquid into a sieve over a cup (mine is a measuring cup) and squeeze the juice through the sieve using a wooden spoon as needed.
Separate the juice into a 3-cup amount and a 2-cup amount.
The cutting and processing took me about 20-minutes, but I was taking photos the entire time. The crusts were able to cool-down a bit during this time.
Step 4: Bloom the Gelatine
Sprinkle the 1-oz of gelatine (in my case, all four packets) over the top of the 2-cups of watermelon juice and let it sit for 2-minutes.
After the 2-minutes, microwave the mixture for 2-minutes.
Step 5: Mix
I used 1/2-cup fresh lemon juice, squeezed from 5-small lemons.
I also zested one of the lemons for the 2-teaspoons of lemon zest.
Mix the 3-cups of watermelon juice, 1/2-cup milk, 1/2-cup lemon juice, 2-teaspoons lemon zest, and 1/2-cup of sugar thoroughly.
Add the gelatine/watermelon juice mix last and stir.
Step 6: Set
Slowly add the mixture to the top of the prepared crust(s). I just tried not to make a mess of it when I poured!
Because I had two separate pans, I was able to test (and succeeded) if the mixture would become gelatinous in the freezer.
You can place the dessert in the freezer for 2-1/2 hours or in the refrigerator for 4-hours to set-up.
Step 7: Cut, Garnish & Serve
After the dessert set, (the photos show the 2-1/2 hour-in-the-freezer pan) I cut it into squares and tasted it without the powdered sugar. In my opinion it's delicious by itself if you are looking to cut out excess sugar.
I took a small sieve and dusted a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top, and it added an extra, delicate sweetness, if you need that kind of thing.
I enjoyed this dessert. It was a mix of sweet and sour, was refreshing and literally mouth-watering when I consumed it.
My young children (ages 3 & 4) did not like it, but they do not like sweet & sour things anyway. (Namely candy-like things.)
My 8-year old was able to put in words his concern, that the lemon flavor did not taste good with the watermelon. At least he was honest with me.
To my 8-year old's comment I will say that my son's palette has yet to be developed.
Let me know if you make it! I'm curious what other people think of the mix of flavors.