Mouth-Watering Watermelon Bars
- 1 box round vanilla wafers (12 oz.), finely ground
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 5 cups watermelon juice (from about 1/2 of a large watermelon)
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 small envelopes (1 oz. total) of unflavored gelatin, (see chef’s note)
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar or 1 cup whipped cream, for garnish
step 1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the long sides of the pan. Spray the foil with cooking spray.
step 2 Mix the melted butter into the finely ground vanilla wafers and add 2 Tablespoons of water. Mix well and press the crumbs onto the bottom of the prepared pan, forming a crust. Bake the crust for 20 minutes and allow to cool.
step 3 Set aside 2 cups of the watermelon juice in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine the remaining 3 cups of watermelon juice with the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and heavy cream.
step 4 Sprinkle the gelatin over the reserved 2 cups of watermelon juice. Allow to sit for 2 minutes so that gelatin can dissolve and begin to absorb liquid, or "bloom." After the gelatin blooms, heat it in the microwave for 2 minutes on high, or heat gently in a small pot over low heat on the stove top, until the gelatin has completely melted into the juice and the liquid is smooth.
step 5 Add the watermelon juice with the melted gelatin to the larger bowl of juice from Step 3. Stir to combine. Gently pour the mixture over the prepared crust from Step 2 and place in the freezer for 2 hours or until the mixture is firm. (Alternately, place the pan in the refrigerator and allow to set for 3 to 4 hours.)
step 6 Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Before serving, cut the watermelon bars into squares. If desired, sprinkle each serving with confectioners' sugar or a dollop of whipped cream.