Tag Archives: Watermelon jelly

GELO DI MELONE, a simple summer, Sicilian dessert

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.

RECIPES:

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

GELO DI MELONE (Jellied watermelon)

Viva la Vida, Watermelons Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo’s last painting is Viva la Vida,

Summer is the time for watermelon.This post was first published 02/13/2009 and republished 01/08/2020

Watermelon is related to the squash family and there is a Sicilian saying that it does not matter whatever you do to a zucca (squash/pumpkin) it always remains such – tasteless.

Frida Kahlo obviously did not think so. I saw the above painting at a Frida Kahlo exhibition in the Botanical Gardens in New York in 2015.

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Sicilians also like watermelon and they make a dessert with it called Gelu ‘i muluni (Sicilian for watermelon jelly) – an old Sicilian recipe and once a popular dessert. Many Sicilians say that this dessert has Arab origins and it is easy to see why. The addition of the extra flavourings – vanilla, cinnamon, rose water, chocolate and pistachio transform the taste of what is basically liquefied watermelon juice solidified with corn starch.

As a child living in Trieste, I always called watermelon, anguria as it is called in the north, but when we visited Sicily (my family went there every summer), it was called melone. 

I always notice people buying big slabs or whole watermelons at the  Queen Victoria Market and in Australia watermelon appears to be more popular with those of us who have come from a different cultural background. Have you noticed in Asian restaurants as it is often presented as a palate cleanser at the end of a meal? Or the Greek and Italian families eating watermelon at the beach?

When my son was young, he was very friendly with a Turkish family and he used to report that over summer, there was always watermelon at his friend’s house. They ate it with bread; this is not surprising when watermelon can be used as an ingredient for a watermelon salad (made with feta, black olives, sliced onion, extra virgin olive oil, seasoning and mint) this salad, now popular in many Australian homes..

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Although this dessert is very easy to make, it does look very attractive and your guests will think that you have gone to a lot of effort – much more so than just serving up slices of watermelon.

One kilo of watermelon is sufficient to make 4 desserts.

INGREDIENTS
ripe watermelon, 1k
sugar, 100g
pure vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon
rosewater, 2-3 tablespoons (or jasmine water – steep flowers in some hot water overnight)
cornstarch , 40g
pistachios , chopped, 50g
chocolate, chopped, 50g
candied citron,( Sicilians use Zuccata – candied zucca (squash/pumpkin family) 50g
cinnamon, 1 stick.
 
Remove rind and seeds and liquefy in food processor or blender (1k of watermelon gave me 1 litre of juice).
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan and add some watermelon juice gradually to form a smooth paste.
Add rest of the juice and the cinnamon stick and on low heat, stir constantly with a wooden spoon until thickened
Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract and rose water.
Discard the cinnamon stick, pour it into a bowl (or individual bowls) and place it into the refrigerator until required. The pistachio and chocolate can be sprinkled on top when ready to eat or wait till the gelo is cool and then fold in the solids before refrigerating.