Watermelon Ice Cream Bombe

When I was growing up, I was blessed with an extraordinary great-aunt. Pauline Koznta was a dedicated high school French teacher who also worked at the American Association to the UN where she one year received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for having performed the most foreign service. Her husband, elegantly old-fashioned Uncle Leslie, was an importer of wine and spirits. Although I adored them both, they lived in such a rarefield and gracious manner that a visit to their exquisite apartment in Riverdale always held many unknown terrors for me. I was brought up in a much more casual, child-oriented environment. I didn’t know not to put my feet on the chair rungs, or my hands on the walls, or not to pick up a chicken drumstick with my fingers. And I had certainly not experienced food that had wine or liqueur in it. But around the time I was in junior high school and could travel on my own up to the Bronx, Aunt Polly took it upon herself to civilize and educate me in the finer ways. The afternoon would usually begin with a detested French lesson and then proceed to some other cultural discussion. Dinner would be the final lesson, and one day, when Polly asked me if there was anything I couldn’t tolerate to eat, I immediately presented her with a lengthy verbal list. She asked with great surprise if I could possibly be allergic to all those things and when I explained that it was simply a question of extreme distaste, her horrifying response was, “That’s no excuse,” and she proceeded to serve one of them (canned asparagus—horror of horrors). If only I could return to those dinners now, with my passion for speaking French and my more mature palate. (Though I still wouldn’t want canned asparagus, even if imported from France.)

The one thing I almost always enjoyed about dinner was dessert. Hannah, the housekeeper, had been a pastry chef in the city of her origin, Vienna. She told stories about separate restaurant kitchens devoted to the brewing of coffee so as not to contaminate its flavor. My favorite of her desserts was her ice cream bombe. Hannah had become a little lazy and used store-bought pistachio ice cream and raspberry sorbet and chocolate chips for pits but I have recreated the recipe directly from my fantasy, making everything from scratch. The ganache seeds are ideal because they don’t harden even on freezing and they really do resemble the real thing. Either way, this is a spectacular and fabulously delicious dessert, perfect for the Fourth of July, partly because watermelon is so very American and partly because the word bombe is suggestive of fireworks!

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Freezing time: at least 6 hours
KEEPS: Ice cream has the best texture within 3 days of freezing but with the Kirsch will maintain its texture for up to a week.
volume ounces grams
Pistachio Ice Cream ( cups)
4 large egg yolks ¼ liquid cup 2.5 ounces 74 grams
sugar ½ cup 3.5 ounces 100 grams
unsalted pistachio nuts,* finely ground cup 1.75 ounces 50 grams
heavy cream liquid cups
milk ½ liquid cup
OPTIONAL: Kirsch (cherry eau de vie) 1 tablespoon
green liquid food coloring 4 drops
Raspberry Sorbet (cups)
raspberries, frozen with no sugar added 2 12-ounce bags 24 ounces 680 grams
lemon juice, freshly squeezed 1 tablespoon
sugar 1 cup 7 ounces 200 grams
OPTIONAL: Chambord liqueur 2 tablespoons
Chocolate Ganache Seeds (65 seeds)
bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped of a 3-ounce bar 2 ounces 56 grams
heavy cream 1 tablespoon

*If you can only find salted nuts, place them in a strainer and rinse them in hot tap water; dry with paper towels.


Pistachio Ice Cream

Have a medium bowl ready near the range.

In a small heavy noncorrodible saucepan, stir together the yolks, sugar and pistachio nuts until well blended, using a wooden spoon.

In another small saucepan, scald the cream and milk to the boiling point. (Or use a heatproof glass measure in a microwave on high power.) Stir a few tablespoons into the yolk mixture, then gradually add the remainder, stirring constantly.

Bring just to the boiling point (small bubbles will begin to appear around the edges).

Heat the mixture, stirring constantly to just below the boiling point (170°F. to 180°F.). Steam will begin to appear and the mixture will be slightly thicker than heavy cream; a finger run across the back of a spoon dipped in the mixture will leave a well-defined track. Immediately remove from the heat and pour into a bowl, scraping up the thickened cream on the bottom of the pan. (Strain if desired; I like the small pieces of pistachio in the ice cream.) Cool in an ice-water bath or the refrigerator until cold, at least 2 hours.

Stir in the optional Kirsch and the food coloring. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the ice cream to ripen for at least 2 hours in the freezer until firm but spreadable before assembling in the bombe. Makes cups.

Raspberry Sorbet

In a strainer suspended over a deep bowl, thaw the raspberries completely. This will take several hours. (To speed thawing, place in an oven with a pilot light.) Press the berries to force out all the juice. There should be 1 cup.

In a small saucepan, boil the juice until it is reduced to ¼ cup. (Or reduce the juice in a microwave* on high power.) Pour into a lightly oiled heatproof cup.

*If using a microwave, place the juice in a 4-cup heatproof glass measure or bowl to allow for bubbling.

Purée the raspberries and strain them through a food mill fitted with the fine disc. Or use a fine strainer to remove all the seeds. You should have 1 liquid cup of purée.

Stir in the raspberry syrup and lemon juice. You should have 1⅓ liquid cups. Add the sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the Chambord if desired.

If you have less raspberry purée, decrease the sugar, using teaspoons sugar for each tablespoon of raspberry purée (three-fourth the volume of sugar to purée).

Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze the sorbet in a covered container for at least 2 hours or until fairly firm. Makes cups.

Chocolate Ganache Seeds

In the upper container of a double boiler set over hot, not simmering, water on low heat, melt the chocolate. (Or melt the chocolate in a microwave on high power, stirring every 10 seconds.) Stir in the cream until smooth and uniform. Use an offset metal spatula to spread the chocolate in a thin layer on wax paper. Allow it to harden at room temperature for several hours or place it in the freezer just until firm, about 20 minutes.

Using the sharp tip of a knife or an elliptical canapé cutter, form the seeds. Place the sheet of seeds in the freezer until very hard.

Ateco makes a canapé set that contains a -inch-long cutter.

Separate the seeds from the chocolate sheet by sliding a knife or metal spatula under the chocolate—the seeds will pop out. Place them on wax paper. Return them to the freezer until hard. Makes about 65 seeds.

Chill the watermelon mold.

Fold half the ganache seeds into the raspberry sorbet.

Spread the pistachio ice cream in the bottom and up the sides of the chilled mold (just to the edge of the decorative part). Freeze for about 30 minutes or until firm.

Fill the center of the mold with the sorbet. Cover tightly and freeze for at least 6 hours or up to a week. (If you have not added the Kirsch and Chambord, freeze no longer than 3 days, or ice crystals will form.)

To unmold, invert the mold onto a serving plate. Run a towel under warm water and wring it out. Drape it evenly over the mold and allow to sit for about 30 seconds. Run the towel under warm water a second time and drape over the mold. Repeat as necessary until when you lift away the mold the bombe slides out. Immediately set it in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Use a sharp knife dipped in hot water to slice the bombe. Set each slice on a plate and place the remaining chocolate seeds on the raspberry sorbet, pressing them in slightly. If your freezer is very cold and the ice cream and sorbet are still very solid, allow the slices to sit on the plates for 5 to 10 minutes before serving, as the bombe is the most delicious when just beginning to melt slightly.

KEEPS: Sorbet has the best texture within 3 days of freezing but with the Chambord will maintain its texture for up to a week.