Frozen Watermelon Lime Bars


As a camp counselor, I get to essentially be a camper and get paid for it. Yes, I have to deal with scores of hyperactive and belligerent children, but on the whole it’s a pretty good way to burn up my summer days. The other day in the Art Shack (where building where “Arts and Crafts” takes place) we decided to have the kids make collages using a plethora of abandoned magazines. We had a couple of National Geographics, a few Peoples, several Home and Gardens, and even one Esquire (with a rather intense pictorial of Monica Belluci — not exactly kid-friendly). I sifted through the pile until I hit paydirt, Gourmet magazine. I started flipping through the pages until I reached a rather fantastic looking dessert called Frozen Watermelon Lime Bars.

Now, when I normally think of frozen watermelon dishes, I think of this…

Friendly's Wattamelon roll

While I’m sure it’s pretty tasty, it doesn’t exactly inspire. Gourmet’s recipe would doll it up a bit. Make a commercial dessert at home with a little flair? Count me in! And in all honesty, what else do you do with watermelon, other than cut it into cubes or slices for raw eating?

The recipe has two layers. The first consists of a watermelon sorbet; the second, a lime semifreddo. I know what you’re thinking: Semifreddo, what the flip is that? Wasn’t that the guy in The Godfather? Well, that was Fredo. But this is “Semifreddo,” Italian for “Half Cold.” The two flavors go well together, and the light green tint of the semifreddo layer (thanks to lime juice and zest, unlike the friendly’s counterpart) makes for a perfect contrast with the deep red of the watermelon sorbet.

First I made the sorbet, which was relatively straight forward. I’ve got an ice cream maker, so it wasn’t much of a concern, but ice cream and sorbet can be made just fine without one. In fact, I made a phenomenal cucumber lime sorbet a month or two ago in a food processor and the texture was fantastic, perhaps better than this one. But I’ll save that for another time…

This watermelon sorbet had a some tequila in it, which supposedly kept the sorbet from freezing fully. While this is definitely true, the tequila also provided a nice adultish oomph to the sorbet.

Ingredients… (courtesy of gourmet magazine)

For layer numero uno (Watermelon Sorbet)

2 1/2 lbs of watermelon
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon tequila

For layer numero dos (Lime Semifreddo)

1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup chilled heavy cream


an ice cream maker

Food processor
Electric Mixer

Make Watermelon Sorbet
Spread the wealth
Line a 9-inch square baking pan (2 inches deep) with plastic wrap or parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang. Put lined pan in freezer.

NOTE: I used an 8 inch pan and it fit, but if you’ve got the “niner,” go for it.

Coarsely chop watermelon flesh (leave seeds in), then purée enough to yield 2.5 cups in a blender.

Then add sugar, juice, and tequila to purée and blend 30 seconds.

NOTE: When making a sorbet from melons, it is always better to err on the side of caution when food processing. Over blending can take away some of the taste, so my mixture still had a few little pieces of watermelon. Doing so had no negative impact on the dish.

Freeze sorbet in ice cream maker. Transfer to lined baking pan, smoothing top. Put in freezer to harden, at least 1 hour.

Smoothing the top
Making the Semifreddo

  • Whisk together condensed milk, zest, and juice in a large bowl. Beat cream in smaller bowl until it just holds stiff peaks, then gently fold the cream into condensed-milk mixture.
  • Spread over sorbet, smoothing top. Freeze until solid, at least 2 hours.
  • To serve, lift dessert from pan using plastic wrap. Cut bars and serve on chilled plates.

NOTE ON SERVING SIZES: The recipe says that you cut into 12 bars and that it serves 6, but you can really cut it however you want. I cut mine into squares like brownies and that served like 10 people.

I love our new microplane
NOTE ON KEEPING:  Assuming some of it makes it past the first serving, the bars can be frozen (covered once fully assembled) for a couple of days days. Let it sit for a couple of minutes before serving it. Maybe my refridge was just too strong, but it was practically an ice cube when I pulled it out today. I suppose I could always add a little more tequila…
Eat your heart out, Friendly's

Eat your heart out, Friendly's

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