Monday, July 8, 2013

Creamy Watermelon Squares

  Watermelon is a summer-time staple, and a treat that almost everyone enjoys.  Though not much is really done with it, other than wedging, cubing or balling it!   Sure, there's the fancy watermelon boats, but who wants to do all that work?

  I consider this simple dessert a "cousin" to the Lemon Square. Enjoy these after a meal, or make a couple batches for the next big BBQ!

Ingredients that you'll need for 12 bars:

1 package (11 oz) of vanilla wafers, crushed into fine crumbs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 cups watermelon juice (see note)
1/2 teas. lemon zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup milk (whole or 2%)
1 oz (4 pkts) unflavored gelatin
Confectioners sugar or whipped cream, for garnish (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a 13" x 9" baking pan with non-stick cooking spray, then line with a sheet of parchment paper leaving a 2" overhang on each of the long sides of the pan. Lightly spray parchment with cooking spray.
  In a bowl, combine the vanilla wafer crumbs, melted butter and 2 tablespoons of water.  Mix well and press mixture, evenly, onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake crust for 20 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

  2.  In a large bowl, combine 3 cups of the watermelon juice, lemon zest, lemon juice and milk. Set this aside. 
  In a small pan, combine the remaining 2 cups of watermelon juice and sprinkle the gelatin over the juice. Allow to sit for 2 minutes to allow the gelatin to absorb or "bloom".  After the gelatin "blooms", gently heat the pan over low heat until the gelatin has completely melted and the liquid is smooth.  

3.  Combine the two watermelon juice mixtures, stir together well.  Gently pour over the prepared, cooled crust and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or until firm.

   4.  To serve, remove from the refrigerator and slowly run a knife completely around the edge to loosen.  Gently and carefully remove from pan using the parchment paper overhang and place on a cutting board.  Cut into 12 bars.  
  If desired, you can lightly sprinkle the bars with confectioner's sugar or a dollop of whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Note:  To make watermelon juice, place cubes of watermelon in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.  Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.  I got 5 cups of juice from about 9 lbs of watermelon!
  For another tasty and unique way to enjoy watermelon, try this Watermelon Gazpacho!