Buy more melons than you need and taste them before using them —flavorless melons will make a flavorless sherbet. If they are of a size that half shells will contain the right quantity for individual servings, cut them in two—if larger, lift off a lid as for a jack-o’-lantern to empty them, serving from the shells into sherbet glasses. In Europe, tiny melons no more than 2½ to 3 inches in diameter are perfect for individual servings; I have never seen such small versions of the American cantaloupe or muskmelon. If you have large enough deep-freezing facilities, deep freeze the shells, otherwise chill them thoroughly.
Boil the sugar and water together and leave to thoroughly cool before mixing it with the melon purée (sieved), lemon juice, and Champagne. Freeze in ice-cube trays, loosening the mixture from the sides and stirring from time to time, as it freezes. Best start it several hours ahead of time. Just before serving, turn it into an iced bowl, working it a bit with a fork if too firm—it should be just slightly mushy. Rinse out the frozen or chilled melon shells with the Cognac, pour it into the ice, mix, and then fill the shells with the ice.
Copyright © 1974 by Richard Olney. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.