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Sicilian Watermelon Folly

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Eleonora makes Gelo d'anguria, the cult Sicilian dessert, in her home on Mount Etna.

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I followed Mrs Consoli, the cookbook author, as she prepared this old-fashioned Sicilian dessert it in her home in Sicily.

Gelo d'anguria [jaylow dan-goo-ree-ah]
1 liter (4 cups) watermelon juice
120gr / 4oz sugar
90gr / 3oz wheat starch or cornstarch if you can't find it
50gr / 1.5oz candied pumpkin (optional)
50gr / 1.5oz chocolate grains (same size as the watermelon seeds)
Vanilla extract a pinch
Cinammon a pinch
Jasmin flowers

Mrs Consoli draws her curtains between 10 AM and 5 PM every day to keep the heat out, and the low light in the kitchen give the pictures their subjective quality - I hope you won't mind.

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Start by making one liter of watermelon juice. Just cut the rind and deseed your watermelon, then cut into cubes and place in a clean cotton towel or T-shirt and squeeze. Measure 1 liter (4 cups) watermelon juice.

Pour the watermelon juice into the sugar (lead picture).

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Add the starch. The traditional starch used in Sicily for this dessert is wheat starch, which you may not always find. Cornstarch works equally as well but it imparts a slightly sandy taste which some people don't like, says Mrs Consoli.

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Break a little piece of cinammon from your stick and powder it in a mortar or spice grinder.

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Pour the ground cinammon into the watermelon juice through a tea strainer or fine sieve to eliminate any large bits.

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Pour the juice into a saucepan and heat while turning with a wooden spoon.

As the liquid cools down, add a little vanilla extract or pure vanillin, and the jasmine extract. where do I find jasmine extract?, I asked Mrs Consoli. You don't - all you need is infuse a few jasmine flowers in hot water, and there is your extract, she answered. When the liquid is back at room temperature, add the candied pumpkin if you have it and the little chocolate grains.

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Pour into a large jelly mold or several smaller ones and place in the fridge overnight.

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Turn over a serving dish and garnish with fresh jasmine flowers. Here is civilization at its best - we take the juice from gorgeous fruit that is a little messy to eat, supplement it with extra flavors and turn it into a refreshing and fragrant jelly.

Cultural note: Sicilians call the watermelon mellone but in your Italian dictionary you'll find cocomero and anguria as the official translations. Both are the same thing, a fruit designed as a metaphor of environmentalists politicians, green on the outside but red inside.

Mrs Consoli is a former food journalist and she teaches in Italian, French and English. Her cookbook La cucina del sole 'Sun's Kichen' is available in Italian and Japanese but not in English. If you ever travel to Sicily, make sure you give her a call.

Eleonora Consoli
[haylayawNAWnawrah KONsawlee] www.cucinadelsole.it
Via Contemare 9
95029 - Viagrande Catania
Tel/Fax +39-095-7890116 or +39-095-7899091


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Looks intriguing. I'm a bit suspicious of jellies, but I'm trying to get over it.

By the way, I think you might have a typo in the ingredient list. 2 cups is about 1/2 liter, so you probably meant either 0.5 liters or 4 cups.
  • #2
  • Comment by Jason
This is a most intriguing desert. I will have to try this.
  • #3
  • Comment by Shu
Is this our quota 2 posts for the week? Mamamia! Now I have another week of impatient waiting for something interesting and delicious-looking to feast my eyes upon. Your blog is addictive, fx!
  • #4
  • Answered by fx
Daniel, I corrected the typo, thanks! It's not a jelly in the sense of those you spread on bread, nor is it anything like one you would buy in a supermarket. Very refreshing, the dish captures the essense of the watermelon, enhances it and serves it in a nice-to-eat shape.
  • #5
  • Answered by fx
Shu, I missed my Friday post since I was busy launching the Spanish version of FXcuisine.com, so I decided to catch up. There might be another post this Friday - who knows?
Daniel, your recipe calls for chocolate grains.  Are those just chopped chocolate or is that cacao nib?  Or something else?  Thanks.
  • #7
  • Answered by fx
Rob, the chocolate grains are just this - grains of chocolate, the size of a flat corn grain. I buy mine at G. Detout in Paris but they must be available in pastry decor aisle of large supermarkets.
Beautiful! I think the lighting in those images is perfectly suited to the occasion and story. Thanks for this.
Excellent recipe.  The high point of this post is the directions embellished with great photography.
I stumbled across this site and now I will be a regular.

  • #10
  • Comment by Michigan
As wonderful as the dessert sounds, I'll take that knock-out platter it's served on instead. Wow!
Great article. I actually ate a lot of fruit jellies in Italy.
I make my watermelon juice with a food processor and a fine mesh sieve.
I think chocolate grains would be translated to chocolate chips in the US!!
  • #12
  • Comment by Rosedarpam
Found you at Tastespotting from the Nostradamus Cherry Jelly post.  I am so excited by your website.  The three recipes I read are innovative but still founded on good culinary practices.  Living in Hawaii, sour cherries are hard to find so I will be using Surinam Cherries (not a true cherry) instead. Also, the Roasted Pineapple will be tried soon.  The comment about the degradation of vanilla beans in the caramelization struck a note with me so I will not be using them.  However, I believe they will survive the roasting process so I will definitely use them.  
This looks crazy. She almost replicated the look of the inside of the watermelon. I do love the photography. Thanks for the post.
Who is the other lady standing next to Eleonora? Is that a family member?
  • #15
  • Answered by fx
Tonino, the other lady is Mrs Consoli's assistant, a very serious and precise black lady who learns Sicilian cookery while helping Mrs Consoli prepare her dishes. In this specific case she made the Gelo which you see on the pictures the day before so we wouldn't have to wait 5 hours for it to harden.
  • #16
  • Answered by fx
Manger la ville, that's exactly the spirit of this dish, to reproduce the watermelon with its seeds but in an artificial way. Very popular trick in the Middle Ages!
  • #17
  • Answered by fx
Rosedarpam, the roasted pineapple will not fail you like the cherry jelly might. It's really about vanilla profusion, like a man from a poor neighboorhood who would win a lottery ticket and buy every gold chain he could find. Clearly some of the vanilla is lost but you end up with this intense smell and avalanche of tiny black seeds - really striking!
  • #18
  • Answered by fx
Laura, these grains are very specific, they should look like wheat grain, not flat like a chip. You should mistake them for seeds really. Good luck!
  • #19
  • Answered by fx
Michigan, Mrs Consoli has very nice cookware indeed!
  • #20
  • Answered by fx
Throw Blankets, thanks for your visit and I hope to see you back!
  • #21
  • Answered by fx
Chip, I had to make do with the very little available light but am glad you liked it!
  • #22
  • Comment by Alex
Your blog is interesting!Keep up the good work!
the watermelon jelly should be excellent. I am making the jelly in Indian method. Since the wator melon seed is added having medicinal value.
  • #24
  • Answered by fx
Mr Pandala, thanks for visiting, I did not know that watermelon seeds had any virtues, here in Europe people just discard them!
  • #25
  • Comment by Alex
Very intersting recipe! I'm not sure I have what starch where I live, though. Someone told me that wheat starch is really the same as gluten-free flour. Is that really true?
  • FX's answer→ Alex you could use cornstarch instead or just gelatin or even agar agar.

I made this today. Was quite yum. I used cornstarch. Was just wondering. Asian grocery stores here sell wheat starch - I think they use it to make dumplings. Would this wheat starch work in this recipe? or is Italian/sIcilian wheat starch different?
  • FX's answer→ Danny, I think you can use a number of different starch here.

  • #29
  • Comment by lap
Use granulated sugar or powdered sugar???
  • FX's answer→ Granulated.

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