National Eat Dessert First Month Challenge Day 3: National Watermelon Day

Have you had your watermelon today? No? Well, what are you waiting for? Go out and get some, because it’s national watermelon day! And it’s probably one of the only guilt-free desserts you’re going to be getting this month, so better make the most of it. I subscribe heavily to the “negation effect theory”–according to this theory, even if you eat a 5-pound cheesecake with caramel and hot fudge topping, as long as you eat a 5-pound watermelon…cheesecake negated!

If only that’s how it worked.

It’s the third day of National Eat Dessert First! Month, an entire 31 days dedicated to a different themed dessert but, more importantly, getting those desserts onto our plates and palates! Each day will feature a new guest chef’s photos and recipes for each theme. If you’re interested in joining in for a dessert-tastic month, read the details at the Dessert Month Challenge post. It’s never too late to start!

About today’s featured chef, rebecky_mo: Hello to everyone out there! My online name is rebecky_mo, but I go by pretty much any form of the name Rebecca. I’m Canadian, and I like to think of myself as an adventurous eater, though my cooking skills are still pretty average. I’m a wuss when it comes to spicy foods, and I don’t think any food is ever going to beat good old potato chips in my book.
THEMED ENTRY #3: WATERMELON-LIME GELATIN SQUARES

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Time for my second of three recipe challenges for the “August Is Dessert Month!” Challenge.

I’m gonna warn you now; this one is a little odd, and probably won’t be to most people’s tastes. To be honest, it was kind of an experiment on my part.

I actually wanted to USE the fruit since it’s in season, but watermelon isn’t great for cooking/baking. Then I found a recipe for these Watermelon-Lime Gelatin Squares (<- link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/watermelon-lime-gelatin-squares-recipe/index.html
) on the Food Network website (I chose not to use the alcohol for personal reasons). PERFECT! But then I remembered something else I enjoy making with my watermelon; watermelon salad. You know, with the onion and the feta and all that stuff. And then I got a crazy idea; what would happen if I added feta cheese to the gelatin?

And then I added feta to the gelatin. Well, half the gelatin actually; just to see what would happen, while still being able to try the original recipe.

…Yep. Told you it’d be weird.

Believe it or not, the feta wasn’t the thing I liked least about the experiment. That honor belonged to the mint leaf. It looks pretty and the mint/watermelon tastes great, but you’d just suddenly get this huge burst of mint killing the other flavors, and have this leafy thing stuck in your teeth while the gelatin and the cheese was actually eaten. If it weren’t for the presentation factor, I’d probably just use a mint extract or something for a more even flavoring.

Though to be honest? I kinda liked the feta in the gelatin; if I ever dared to do it again, I’d probably crumble it instead of using a small cube. It cut down the sweetness of the gel, and gave another texture that wasn’t as flimsy as the mint leaf.

But like I said, I’m weird like that. Now, where’d I put that Balsamic Vinegar?…

Watermelon and Lime Gelatin Squares (With Feta)

8 cups chopped seedless watermelon
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Sambuca or anisette liqueur (optional)
2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin powder (about three 1/4-ounce packets)
Cooking spray
About 16 small fresh mint leaves
16 cubes feta cheese, approx 1cm square (VERY optional)

– Puree the watermelon, sugar, lime juice and Sambuca in a blender until smooth, working in batches if necessary. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a large liquid measuring cup.

– Pour 1 cup of the watermelon mixture into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, pour another 1 cup of the watermelon mixture into a large bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top; let stand 1 minute. Pour the hot watermelon mixture into the bowl and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Stir in the remaining watermelon mixture from the measuring cup.

– Spray an 8-inch-square cake pan with cooking spray, wiping out the excess. Pour in the watermelon mixture. Skim the foam from the surface and refrigerate the gelatin until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Arrange the mint leaves and feta cubes on top in rows, then push them just below the surface. Refrigerate until fully set, at least 4 hours.

– Unmold the gelatin: Invert onto a cutting board, then re-invert onto another cutting board and cut into squares.

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