My wife and I absolutely love watermelon. Its too bad really–you can only get your hands on it for such a short window at a reasonable price. They’ll be overpriced, small, and so-so flavor leading up to July, then, just before July 4th, they’re huge, incredible, and dirt cheap. In roughly a week, its all downhill from there again. So this year, I stocked up. As I stared at the 3 gigantic melons on my countertop, I wondered what I could possibly do with them before they go bad. Being as predictable as I am, my ice cream instinct kicked in. I was happy with the sorbet I made last year, but wanted to try something different since that particular sorbet freezes a little harder than I prefer.
I was hesitant about this one. Watermelon, while distinct, has a very delicate flavor, and so I was concerned that heavy things (like cream) would mute it beyond recognition. I was also worried that being so loaded with water, it would freeze in a not-very-scoopable way, which would be a downer. I approached this by going light on the egg/cream components so that they could benefit the texture but not obliterate the watermelon flavor. I’d also had fantastic results with coconut milk in the past when working with delicately flavored frozen desserts, and since it seemed like a natural flavor pairing, I ran with it. Much to my delight, the end result is still very scoopable and very distinctly watermelon–bright pink, refreshing, and summer in a spoon.
Ramya was also delighted. She doesn’t know it yet, but she approves of this ice cream, too, which clearly, means you need to try it.
- 4 cups watermelon juice (~1/4-1/2 a watermelon, depending on size)
- 1.33 cups sugar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 cup heavy cream
Harvest the watermelon flesh and discard the rinds and any large seeds. Depending on the size of your watermelon, you may not need the entire thing for this recipe–I needed somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 a melon.
Puree the watermelon flesh in a blender/food processor and pour it through a strainer to remove any fibrous bits and errant seeds. What remains should be bright pink, delicious watermelon juice. Measure 4 cups for this recipe into a mixing bowl, and if you have extra, you shouldn’t have much difficulty finding a home for it–drink it, mix it with your liquor of choice, whatever.
Put 2 cups of the watermelon juice and 1 cup of sugar in a pot and simmer on low-medium heat for 10 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved. Do not boil. Pour this back into the bowl with the rest of your watermelon juice. Also mix in the vanilla extract, lime juice, and coconut milk. Put this bowl in an ice bath and set a strainer on top of it.
Now, in your pot, heat up (and do not boil) the heavy cream over medium heat. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks and remaining 1/3 cup of sugar until lightened in color. Temper the yolks with the hot cream and then pour it all into the pot with the cream. Stir and scrape constantly for 5-10 minutes or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Finally, pour the cooked custard through the strainer (to remove any scrambled egg bits) into the juice bowl. Chill this mixture in the fridge for several hours before churning in your ice cream maker for 25-30 minutes. Set this in the freezer overnight and enjoy!