Sicilian Watermelon Pudding Recipe from Dolci Cookbook by Francine Segan

I learned during New York stop of Vinitaly Tour 2011 that Sicily produces more grapes for wine than the whole of Australia.

I don't know where they stand for watermelon crops on the world map.

I was instantly taken by Dolci, Italy's Sweets (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, October 2011) by Francine Segan when it landed on my desk.

The book takes us on a tour of Italy with 100 recipes for all types of treats from cookies to frozen delights.

Dolci goes beyond Cannoli and other staples and also offers regional fare like Sweet Rosemary and Grape Foccacia, Licorice Granita and uncommon Chocolate Eggplant.

Here's a taste of Italy south with a recipe that tastes like Summer.

Sicilian Watermelon Pudding

Gelo di anguria

Serves 4

Region: Sicily

Watermelon juice thickened with a little cornstarch creates a light, nondairy, nonfat treat that’s perfect for a hot summer day. The bits of chocolate, which whimsically mimic watermelon seeds, add nice flavor and crunch.

This watermelon custard, or gelu di miluni in Sicilian dialect, is served all summer, but especially on July 15 in Palermo, in honor of the city’s patron saint, Saint Rosalia. It’s also commonly served on Ferragosto, August 15, Italy’s national holiday that marks the start of summer vacation.

3 to 4 cups (About 1 lb/450 to 600 grams) diced seeded watermelon, plus more as needed

3 ½ tablespoons cornstarch

1/3 cup (2 1/4 ounces/65 grams) sugar, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons Maraschino liqueur

Dark chocolate, finely chopped

Chopped pistachios

Fresh jasmine flowers (optional)

Sicilam Watermelon Pudding

Puree the watermelon in a food processor until liquidy, and then press through a fine-mesh sieve. You will need 2 cups (16 fluid ounces/480 milliliters) liquid, so process more watermelon, if necessary.

Combine the watermelon juice, cornstarch, and sugar in a saucepan and, off the heat, whisk until the cornstarch is fully dissolved. Simmer the mixture over low heat until it thickens, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Maraschino liqueur. Taste and add more sugar, if you like. Pour into 4 serving cups or molds and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.

To serve, unmold onto a serving plate or serve in the cup and garnish with chocolate, pistachios,
and jasmine flowers, if you like.

Un Altro Modo

Orange Gelo: Substitute 2 cups (16 fluid ounces/480 milliliters) freshly squeezed orange juice for the watermelon juice.

Lemon Gelo: Substitute 1 cup (8 fluid ounces/240 milliliters) freshly squeezed lemon juice diluted with 1 cup (8 fluid ounces/240 milliliters) water for the watermelon juice. Adjust the sugar to taste.

Coffee Gelo: Substitute 2 cups (16 fluid ounces/480 milliliters) freshly brewed coffee or espresso for the watermelon juice. Dilute with water and season with sugar to taste.

Cinnamon Gelo: Steep several 2-inch (5-centimeter) cinnamon sticks overnight in 2 cups (16 fluid ounces/480 milliliters) water. Bring to a boil and strain, substituting this liquid for the watermelon

(* Sicilian Watermelon Pudding recipe from Dolci, Italy's Sweets by Francine Segan - Stewart, Tabory & Chang- October 2011- reproduced by permission of the publisher, Photos by Ellen Silverman, all rights reserved)

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