Saturday, August 1, 2009


Here's my new summertime dessert - Margarita Semifreddo with Lemon-Lime Granita, Watermelon Cubes, Sweet Salted Lime Chips, Watermelon Lime Syrup and Candied Watermelon Rind. I started conceptualizing this dessert when I saw our fabulous banquet chef, MJ Jackson, using compressed watermelon slices for a melon and tomato salad. MJ put watermelon slabs in a plastic bag and sealed them under pressure with a Cryovac machine, which is like a big Foodsaver. It forces all of the juices into the watermelon and turns it an incredible shade of red - absolutely beautiful! Since I had already planned to put a frozen dessert on the menu, I started thinking about using the melon as a component for a semifreddo/granita combination. Lime is a great complement to watermelon, so that became the next flavor. Then I thought, what goes with watermelon and lime ... why, tequila, of course, or more specifically, a margarita!

So the margarita flavors became the main component in the semifreddo - it has Hornitos Reposado tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and simple syrup blended with yolks, sugar and cream. The base is a moist citrus sponge cake loaded with orange and lemon rind. The granita is a mix of fresh lemon and lime juices with a sugar syrup - it's so tangy and refreshing! Lime also shows up in the watermelon lime syrup that's drizzled over the watermelon cubes. The chips are made by cutting wonton wrappers into triangles, dipping them into sugar, adding just a sprinkle of kosher salt and baking them. When they come out of the oven they get a drop or two of fresh lime juice squeezed onto them. The final garnish is candied watermelon rind.

I love this dessert - when you eat the granita with the semifreddo it tastes just like a frozen margarita. The fresh watermelon and the crunchy, sweet & salty lime chips are fantastic accompaniments. It's the perfect way to cool down on a hot summer day!


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