(Family Features) Whether your family’s ideal summer day consists of swimming, hiking, biking or simply enjoying the sunshine, all that time in the heat calls for a sweet way to cool off. It’s hard to beat a homemade treat loaded with favorite summertime flavors that are as cold and creamy as it is sweet and delicious.

For a lighter, better-for-you solution, this Watermelon Gelato has about half the fat and fewer calories than traditional ice cream but with an equally mouthwatering flavor. In fact, the word “gelato” means “ice cream” in Italian, and while the two frozen desserts have much in common, gelato is typically lower in fat with more density.

If you’re looking for an added touch of tastiness, try adding a few chocolate chips to the mix in the last few minutes of churning in your ice cream maker, or simply add some on top before serving.

When a summer weekend offers opportunities for morning kitchen lessons with the kiddos, they can help measure ingredients for Watermelon Ice Cream Bars and watch the magic happen as you mix up a watermelon curd, homemade crust, and whipped cream. Once your creation freezes completely throughout the day, turn out and cut into bars for a cold afternoon treat following all that fun in the sun.

While sweet and tasty, these desserts also provide a bite of hydration with the power of watermelon, which is 92% water for a delicious way to rehydrate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, daily fluid intake is defined as the amount of water consumed from foods, plain drinking water, and other beverages, meaning you don’t have to rely only on what you drink to meet your fluid needs.

Because what you eat also provides a significant portion of daily fluids, fruits and vegetables like watermelon can help you and your family stay hydrated for whatever summer days bring your way.

Find more sweet summer recipe ideas at Watermelon.org.

Watermelon Ice Cream Bars

Servings: 8

Watermelon Curd:

  • 3/4 cup watermelon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut into small cubes

Crust:

  • 8 graham crackers, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • basil leaves, for garnish

Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • To make watermelon curd: In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine watermelon juice, lime juice, honey, and salt. Stir to combine then add eggs.
  • Place pan over medium heat and cook, adding cubed butter to the pan and stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Immediately remove from heat and carefully pour through a fine mesh sieve. Cool completely in the refrigerator.

To make the crust:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • In a food processor, pulse graham crackers until rough crumbs form. Add honey, salt, and melted butter; pulse until mixture resembles wet sand.
  • Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with parchment paper then press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the pan in an even layer. Bake crust for about 10 minutes, or until just beginning to brown. Allow crust to cool completely.

Watermelon Gelato

Servings: 8

  • 2 cups pureed watermelon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup fat-free half-and-half
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

To Make:

  • In a blender, blend watermelon, sugar, cornstarch, half-and-half, lemon juice, and whipping cream until smooth.
  • Using an ice cream maker, process gelato according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To make the whipped cream:

  • When crust and curd are completely cooled, in a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form.
  • Gently push cream to one side of the bowl and pour in watermelon curd. Using a spatula, gently fold cream and watermelon curd together until no streaks are visible.
  • Pour creamy watermelon mixture over graham cracker crust. Freeze dessert completely, 4-6 hours or overnight.
  • When ready to serve, loosen sides with a small spatula or butter knife. Turn out onto a cutting board and use a large spatula to flip so graham cracker crust is on the bottom. Cut into eight bars and top each with a basil leaf.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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