Thursday, August 30, 2012

More Mousse, Less Trouble. Watermelon Mousse

    It seems that during this summer I've been looking for things that are cool and easy to make. I haven't been doing a whole hell of a lot of cooking and when I do, it seems that comfort foods and things that get on the table fast take the top spot. A couple of months ago I got fascinated with granitas and moved from there to simple syrups and virgin cocktails, looking for an Indian twist. Kaffir lime is one of my favorite flavors and I'd made Kaffir Lime Mousse, and last week one with Coconut and Pistachio. Then I saw the watermelon.

   I don't eat a lot of watermelon. I don't have those childhood memories of sitting on the stoop somewhere spitting seeds. For one thing, summers in foggy San Francisco were usually spent in a parka and warm sweater. Not exactly watermelon weather. I just never got into the habit. The way I usually enjoy watermelon is juiced, mixed with iced green tea with a dash of basil seeds added at the end. But I was in this mousse-making frenzy, the spirit was upon me and I just had to try turning out one of those desserts with a watermelon at the heart.

   So I bought a watermelon. I intended to whip up a mousse and serve it to friends one hot Sonoma evening. But what with my mom and everything else, I just never got around to it. Every morning I'd wake up and say  "today is watermelon day!" and then I'd get a phone call, and I'd get in the car and head off to Santa Rosa, and by the time I got back, I was the one that was blended to a fine puree. No mousse for me.
   Finally I had a break, my mom was stabilized and I thought "this is it," my opportunity to get my watermelon on. I'd planned lunch to end with a delicious watermelon mousse. I never thought about the possibility of watermelons going bad. I mean they just get sweeter right? I'd kept it chilled in the fridge. Sure, it looked a little faded but who doesn't after a while. I cut into the melon, and luckily my greedy side decided to take a bite before putting it into the food processor. It tasted like an old sock. I cannot describe the combination of musty, locker room, dank, and damp that I experienced when I bit into it. I had to chuck it. The watermelon was no more.

   I set off in search of a new melon and the thought struck me, should it have gone bad that fast? Isn't there some type of statute of limitations on watermelon? Surely I hadn't had it in the fridge that long??? What the hell did I know about the proper buying of watermelons? I obviously couldn't tell a ripe watermelon from a load of old socks. Smash cut to Whole Foods, where I stood staring at a pile of melons. Some light green, some dark, some patterned with stripes. I didn't know where to begin. I started groping the watermelons trying to look like I knew what I was doing.  Major fail. I was quickly approached by a friendly Produce Person.

   "Can I help you?"

   "I bought a watermelon, not here, and it was bad it tasted like old socks. I need to make a mousse, help me, help me!"

   "No problem" she said. "I've been working in Produce for 9 years. I know my melons." She started pinging and rapping the melons, examining the skin. It seems the uglier the watermelon, the better it tastes (something about how it lays in the field). She said "what type to you want?"

   "Do the stripes make a difference in flavor?"

   "Same as a racing spoiler on the back of a Toyota"

   She had a face I could trust.  "Just find me one, not too big but flavorful."

   She handed me a melon. I took it home.

I was in the mousse business.

Watermelon Mousse

Here's What You Need:

1 watermelon cut up and seeded
1/2 Tbs of lemon juice
1/2 envelope of gelatine or equal amount of agar agar (if you want a vegetarian recipe) about 1 and 1/4 tsps of gelatine
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of whipping cream

Here's What To Do:

Cut the watermelon into chunks.

Puree it in a blender or food processor.

Put two cups of puree in a pot.
Set 1/4 cup of puree aside in a small bowl.
Put the watermelon puree in the pot on a medium heat and bring it to a boil.
Add the gelatine to the 1/4 cup of watermelon puree in the bowl and mix it in well.

When the watermelon puree reaches a boil, take it off the heat and stir in the gelatine watermelon mixture.
Blend it together well, so you don't have any gelatine lumps.
Add in 1/2 Tbs of lemon juice
And 1/2 cup of sugar.

Mix everything together well and set it aside to cool.
When it has cooled, whip the cream.
Fold the whipped cream into the cooled watermelon mixture.

Ladle the watermelon mousse into small serving ramekins.

Put the ramekins into the refrigerator to chill until they set, usually  two hours or so.
Decorate each one with a dab of whipped unsweetened cream and serve them up.

   This makes an amazingly light, flavorful mousse with the delicate taste of watermelon. Perfect for a simple dessert for a hot Summer night or after a heavy meal. There's always room for this mousse. I also was impressed with how pretty it was, so pink and delicate. I don't normally do pink and delicate. In fact I have an anti pink and delicate personality, but these Mousses (?) Meeses(?) Mice(?) made me want to throw a goddamned pink tea!! Hey, is somebody getting married? Having a Baby shower? I got yer mousse right here. Come and get it.

   Coming up next, my dehydrator arrived and it just sits glowering at me, somethings got to dry out and soon. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


  1. Great idea! I had the same question - had a cut watermelon in my fridge and wasn't sure how long it could last...should have gone the mousse route!

  2. Here our gelatine comes in a large spice jar, how much is equal to a 1/2 package of gelatine, 1 tsp, 1tbsp?

  3. Let me see if I can find that out.. I'll post an amount

  4. Hahha, I have never tried a watermelon that tasted like a sock, I'm sorry to hear about your experience. Now this looks great, I've got to make me some of this before summer is over!

  5. It was a big hit and is going on the menu for our Labor Day BBQ

  6. Hi, Can I use Lime Jello Powder instead of Gelatin as I don't have it at home? If yes, what should be the quantity I need to use for the above recipe?

    1. Shweta,
      if you're planning on making this mousse, and want to use Lime jello (I've never done this) the amount of gelatine used in this recipe (half an envelope of Knox gelatine) is about 1 and 1/4 tsps. I suppose 1 and 1/4 tsps of lime jello could be tried as a substitute, but I can't promise anything. Are you using watermelon?

  7. Hi Kathy,
    Yes, I am using watermelon. I have just made it with the Lime Jello (1.25 tsp). Will let you know if it sets and comes out as expected! :)

  8. Hi Kathy,

    Unfortunately it didn't set..not sure if it was due to the jello or incorrect quantity of it. Anyways have kept it in the freezer now so will serve it as watermelon and cream sorbet :)

  9. Hi Kathy,

    Unfortunately it didn't set..not sure if it was due to the jello or incorrect quantity of it. Anyways have kept it in the freezer now so will serve it as watermelon and cream sorbet :)



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