The Sicilians are the masters of the art of ice cream and sorbet making. It is a skill they have learned over the centuries and which originated during the Arab occupation. The original version of this dessert was a blancmange frozen solid. Traditionally, it celebrates the Festival of the Assumption in mid-August. Various other marvellously cooling sorbets made with jasmine flowers, lemons and oranges are also prepared during the blazing summer months.
Cut the watermelon into slices, remove all the flesh and push it through a sieve into a pan. Mix the sugar and cornflour into the watermelon, then bring to the boil and simmer for 5–6 minutes, stirring constantly. When it has thickened, add the vanilla essence.
Pour the mixture into a dampened mould and freeze until mushy enough to support the additions. Beat to break up the ice crystals, then fold in the chopped chocolate, candied fruit and nuts. Freeze in 6–8 dampened moulds, or one big mould. Turn out and decorate with a little cinnamon before serving.
© 1995 Valentina Harris. All rights reserved.