Monday, June 1, 2009

Smart Minds Watermelon Sorbet with Spicy Chocolate Wafers

The Foodie Fights battle is on...
Please vote on Tuesday, June 2 at  You can check out the other competitors on the post beneath this one.  

You can also just vote here, but please look at everyone's entry first!

I am munching on a freshly baked chocolate pepper cookie and reading about how experts read text in different disciplines (think:  math, science, history, literature), and wondering if anyone has researched how expert bakers read recipes.  If only I could get a PhD in baking instead of education, I think.  Then suddenly I feel indignant.  

"I don't want to work!  I'm making sorbet instead and my paper is not getting any."  I drop my pen, throw my articles on the floor, and stomp into our tiny galley apartment kitchen.  My husband is appalled.

"What?  What have you done with my wife?!"  He sounds seriously anxious, genuinely confused about who is standing in his kitchen where his wife used to be.  

I know, it happens to the best of us Foodies...we find ourselves in a moment where our love for food just takes over our brains.  It's like a rage blackout.  

Which is kind of how I felt tonight, just before beginning my post.  

I come home from class, have a nice dinner of breaded chicken cutlet inspired by the recent New York Times article, spring greens with vinaigrette from the farmer's market, and potato salad.  I do the dishes and think about what to write in my post.  Then I go over to the computer, type in my blog address and my password, happily read and publish the two new comments (thank you Pink Stripes and Brewfus), excitedly notice I have a new follower (Brenda of Cre8tive Kitchen, who is one of my competitors in this foodie fight), click on her blog, and....



Cantaloupe....SORBET? With CHOCOLATE PEPPER ganache?!  How dare she!  That's mine. Mine.  Mine.  Mine.  At least the sorbet part. And the chocolate pepper thing.  Mine. 

The good thing about blackouts is that they are temporary.  So, in case you were concerned, I'm fine now.  Really.  In fact, I think I'm more than fine.  I'm great.  I've just made a new virtual friend, and I know without even talking to her that we have the same tastes.  And let me just ask you:  Have you ever heard the expression, Smart minds think alike?  Well, I think this is one of those instances.  That's right.  Smart Minds.  

Which is how this post got its name.  I was worried about what to call my dish, what to write about, but all I can say now is, Thank you, Brenda.  We should be friends.  

Rage blackouts and potential Fs on papers aside, I think Foodie Fights has done me pretty well so far.  And, in case it doesn't in the end, I have this cool sexy sorbet to cool off with.  

My husband's wife is definitely still missing, and I don't think she wants to be found.  I'm sure he'll be more than happy to share a dish of sorbet with his new one.  

Smart Minds Watermelon Sorbet with Spicy Chocolate Wafers

This dish is the perfect thing to cool you down. The combination of the sweet, icy sorbet that has just a little bit of crunch but a soft underlayer as it melts and the crisp, hot cookies give a person everything she wants on a hot June evening. For those of us who can never decide whether we want fruit or chocolate, cold or hot, spicy or sweet, this is truly the best of both worlds.  The rich chocolate is strong enough to hold its own against the pepper, and the cool, sweet sorbet is much wanted after savoring a bite of cookie.  The sorbet is based on a recipe by David Lebovitz from The Perfect Scoop and the cookie on a Martha Stewart recipe from her book The Best of Martha Stewart Living Desserts.  Serves 6-8, depending on how large the hunger.  

Note:  Although these tools do make the job easier, you don't need an ice-cream maker, food processor, or electric mixer to make this--just follow alternative directions. 

For the Sorbet:
1 small seedless watermelon  
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 lime
A handful of fresh mint, washed and dried

For the Cookies:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 c cocoa powder
1/2 c flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
2 T powdered sugar
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for decoration

To make the sorbet:

1.  Cut the watermelon in half, and cut one half into chunks.  Puree the watermelon in a food processor until you have about 3 cups of puree.  (Alternatively, you can put the melon chunks in a bowl and mash them with a potato masher, a fork, or some other such utensil.)  Leave some chunks in the juice.  
2.  Pour 1/2 c of the watermelon juice into a saucepan.  Add 1/2 c sugar and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves.  The mixture should look almost clear when scooped up in a spoon and should be smooth, with no sugar granules (see picture in how-t0, below).  Remove pan from heat.  
3.  While the mixture is coming to a boil, cut the lime in half and set one half aside for later. Juice half of the remaining half (does that make sense?!) so you have at least 4 tsp.  
4.  Add the rest of the watermelon puree (2 1/2 c) to the saucepan and stir well.  Add 1 T plus 1 teaspoon (4 tsp total) lime juice and stir well.  Save remaining lime juice for serving time.  
5.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or until mixture is very cold.  
6.  Freeze in ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.  (Alternatively, if you don't own an ice-cream maker, you can pour the mixture into an 8 or 9 inch metal cake pan, freeze until solid--about 4 or 5 hours--and then soften for 5 minutes, break up into chunks, and process in food processor or blender until smooth (alternatively, mash in a large bowl with a potato masher or similar utensil).  
7.  You can eat the sorbet at this point or freeze until firmer for later eating.  Yum.  

To make the cookies:

1.  Beat the butter in an electric mixture (or mix in a bowl with a large wooden spoon).  Add sugar and mix well.  Add egg and continue to mix until well combined. 
2.  Add cocoa powder very, very slowly to mixture, making sure each bit is thoroughly mixed in before you add more (otherwise, the powder will get all over your kitchen!).  Then add the flour and powdered sugar in the same manner, though you can add this a little bit faster than the cocoa powder.  Add the crushed red pepper and mix well.  
3.  Divide dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper.  Flatten each half into a thick disk and chill for at least 1 hour.  
4.  Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  
5.  Sprinkle a little flour on a clean work surface and roll one disk out into about 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut with a round cookie cutter with small wavy edges, or use the end of a drinking glass.  Place cookies on baking sheets about  1 inch apart.  Continue to roll out the rest of the cookies, pressing the trimmings together into a ball, flattening it into a disk, and re-rolling. Repeat with remaining disk.  
6.  Sprinkle each cookie with a little of the crushed red pepper flakes.  Don't worry if some gets on the baking sheets.  
7.  Bake for about 12 minutes, until cookies are no longer soft.  Remove from oven and let rest on the baking sheets for 2 minutes.  Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  

To Serve:

1.  Take the un-juiced lime half and slice it.  Cut each slice into 3 wedges, so you have at least a total of 6-8 wedges, depending on number of eaters.  
2.  Scoop some sorbet into each bowl.  Take the lime half that is half-juiced and squeeze it over each bowl, taking care to get only a sprinkling of juice in each dish.  
3.  Stick a chocolate wafer into the side of each bowl.  Garnish with a small mint leaf and a lime wedge.  Serve and savor summer.   

Recipe Selection
I tried to select a recipe that would be cool to celebrate the "official" first day of summer, which is always June 1st in my book.  Melon ice-cream didn't sound very good, but sorbet sounded perfect.  However, even though I love eating sorbet when it's hot, I always feel slightly unsatisfied, like I haven't really eaten dessert.  I bet you know what I mean.  So I wanted to accompany the sorbet with something more substantial, and a crumbly, crispy cookie seemed like it would do the job.  My husband, Brewfus, who is my expert sweet taster, suggested I make that cookie chocolate.  With all the free tasting he does for me, I couldn't argue.  As it turned out, chocolate and pepper are the kind of match I want in my mouth.  While I don't think the Smart Minds sorbet will help me get an A on my paper, it just might make me, and therefore you if you eat it too, a bit smarter in other ways.  

How-to in Pictures:

1.  Cut watermelon.

2.  Ingredients
3.  Pureed watermelon

4.  Sugar is dissolved.
5.  Puree is chilling in the refrigerator. 
6.  Ice-cream maker is hard at work.  

Happy Summer.  


Brenda Campbell said...

I know now that I am in trouble. When they first posted about battle 4 it said cantaloupe that is why I used that... I would have loved using another melon if I knew I could have. Or a combination of melons.. but yours looks fantastic with those cookies! That sorbet looks so yummy, I want some! With my chocolate ganache topping LOL there is a good idea, thanks for the great minds comment towards me! I take that as a compliment! Good Luck in battle!

Brewfus said...

I can vouch for the sublimity of this combo. As Kitten knows, I am a big fan of crushed red pepper, applying it liberally on pasta, pizza, rice, and now - cookies. The sorbet really is the perfect foil for these peppery chocolate morsels. Yum!

Tiffiny Felix said...

Yum! I've got to try the cookies! :) Good luck, Kitten :)

Almost Precious said...

Well have to admit, you've got some good competition there. Over all though, your cool watermelon sorbet with it's dark Chocolate wafer cookies and a jaunty cap of fresh green mint really stands out in the photo line up. Good luck, you got my vote. :)

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

That David Lebovitz has got it going ON when it comes to ice cream and frozen desserts!! His recipes are outstanding!

Green Bean said...

Oh yeah, baby! Those cookies look amazing. And the sorbet, not too shabby.

Screamin' Mama said...

My mouth is watering from that pic! I will definitely have to try this soon!

Brewfus said...

My compliments to the chef on waging a victorious food fight! This only proves what I already know -- that your culinary feats are second to none (including Martha). Can't wait to taste your next creation. Kudos on a job well done, Kitten!

Tiffiny Felix said...

Congrats, D-Kitten! This was so fun :) I'm going to have to get myself an ice cream maker and make both your sorbet and the cantaloupe-honey one...Happy celebrating!

Lee said...

Grats DK on the win, very impressive entry!!

rissykay99 said...

Admittedly I am not much into Watermelon, but after having a Watermelon Ale this weekend at Beer Works (Salem, MA) and seeing this- I might be giving Watermelon another chance.

I'm hoping to try out a Watermelon Cupcake recipe in the near future.

How long until we can have our bake/brew get together?