Gelo di Melone

Sicilian Watermelon Pudding

Popular during midsummer in Palermo, where it is called gelu ‘i muluni, this dessert carries the humble watermelon to new heights of sophistication. Though the Sicilians like to make the mixture dense enough to unmold, I prefer to go easy on the cornstarch and serve the ice-cold watermelon pudding from a bowl. Some like to add a drop or two of jasmine flavor to the mixture, but it is not obligatory.

Make sure to choose a very ripe watermelon for this dessert or you will wind up with a pink cucumber pudding.

Ingredients

  • ¼ ripe watermelon, about 3 pounds
  • cup sugar
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons blanched pistachios, chopped
  • ½ ounce semisweet chocolate, coarsely grated
  • 3 tablespoons candied citron or Zuccata, rinsed and chopped

Method

Spoon the flesh away from the rind of the melon and place in a large bowl. Remove the seeds and liquefy in a blender or a food processor fitted with the metal blade.

Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan and add the watermelon juice gradually, whisking it in. Place over low heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a flat-edged wooden spatula. At the boil, continue cooking about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, over lowest heat.

Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and pour into a mixing bowl. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on the surface.

After the gelo has cooled, stir in the remaining ingredients, except the cinnamon. Pour into an attractive glass serving bowl and chill.

To serve the gelo, spoon into dessert bowls and sprinkle with cinnamon at the table.

Ground cinnamon for finishing

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