Gelo Di Melone is pureed watermelon thickened with a little corn flour or rice flour with the addition of some rose water, vanilla and a little sugar. Once made and poured into the mould to set, I add little jewels of colour and flavours on top – chopped dark chocolate, candied citron and roasted pistachio nuts. This is the basic, traditional recipe. Arab influenced? Except for the chocolate, I think so.
But chocolate is also made in Sicily and those who have been to Modica may be familiar with the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto where chocolate is made using the original methods in the style of the Aztecs and brought by the Spaniards in the 16th century – the Spaniards ruled Sicily at various times and foods from the “New World” (including cocoa beans) were introduced.
Gelo Di Melone is very simple to make, but it takes time to get the flavours right. Why?
The answer is simple. It all depends on the flavour of the melone (watermelon).
The puree is thickened with a little flour and stirred on heat like a custard. This time I used rice flour and I stirred it through a little melon puree to make sure it was not lumpy.
Add a little rosewater, vanilla essence and a little sugar, but then you have to taste it. Is it sweet enough? Does it need more rosewater? Shall I add a little lemon juice to lift the flavour?
Once you have decided that you like the taste, you could then experiment with the recipe. For example I like to add roasted almonds through the thickened mix, a little cinnamon can also be good and if I have run out of citron peel, good quality orange peel does the trick.
On occasions instead of rosewater I have used rose liqueur or violet liqueur. This is strictly not the traditional recipe, but if I am not making it for Sicilians I feel comfortable to experiment. And I have fun doing it.
I prefer to present the Gelo di Melone in little glass bowls, however, it doesn’t look bad in a large bowl and it takes up less room in the fridge.
The black bowl below is made of glass.
Once decorated they taste and look even more stunning.
GELO DI MELONE (Jellied watermelon)
GELO DI LIMONE (Sicilian Jellied Lemon)
MODICA and HONEY and Sicilian biscuits called nucatuli
ARABS IN SICILY, some sweets, petrafennula
PETRAFENNULA also called PETRAMENNULA, a Sicilian sweet with possible Arabic origins