Watermelon Pudding (Gelo d'Anguria)

June 21, 2015

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: Made with a simple preparation, this pudding relies only on three main ingredients: fresh watermelon juice, cornstarch, and sugar. The result is a slightly wobbly but set pudding to eat by the spoonful. It's quite similar to lemon curd or panna cotta in consistency but tastes fresh and delicate (and—take note, those with dietary requirements—it's gluten-free and vegan, too). The individual puddings are made all the more exotic with traditional flavors of cinnamon or jasmine extract (make it by steeping white jasmine flowers in hot water, or use bottled essence) and a garnish of chopped pistachios and/or dark chocolate (a great combination that is supposed to be reminiscent of watermelon seeds), or sometimes even candied pumpkin.

And, if you have too much left over, this thick, wobbly mixture (much like lemon curd) can also be used to fill pie bases for baking watermelon crostata.
Emiko

Serves: 6 to 8 people

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (1 liter) watermelon juice (about 3 pounds of watermelon, depending on how juicy it is)
  • 2/3 cup (100 grams) cornstarch (cornflour)
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar (or up to 1 cup/200 grams/1 cup, depending on the natural sweetness of the fruit)
  • Optional flavors: jasmine extract, ground cinnamon
  • optional garnishes: chopped dark chocolate, chopped unsalted pistachios
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. To obtain the watermelon juice, chop up watermelon pieces and pass through a food mill (passaverdura), blend in a blender or food processor and filter the juice through a sieve, or use a juicer.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with about 1/2 cup of the juice and mix until smooth, being sure there are no lumps of starch. In a wide pot, add this to the rest of the juice and bring to a gentle simmer. Add sugar and taste for sweetness (you can adjust by adding more but I don't recommend using more than 1 cup total). If using, add the cinnamon or jasmine. As the mixture begins to cook, you will notice it getting thicker. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until it coats the back of a spoon and a finger drawn through it leaves a line (you are looking for a consistency similar to lemon curd).
  3. Pour into individual containers such as ramekins, pretty glasses, or even jars for serving and set in the refrigerator, 4 to 6 hours or until chilled and set. It will still be a little wobbly and you can eat it directly out of the glass or ramekin with a spoon or even turn it out onto a plate like panna cotta. Decorate the tops with dark chocolate or pistachios.

More Great Recipes:
Pudding|Fruit|Melon|Pistachio|Make Ahead|5 Ingredients or Fewer|Summer|Vegetarian|Vegan|Gluten-Free|Dessert

Reviews (17) Questions (1)

17 Reviews

Patty H. August 19, 2018
I made this with arrowroot and it came out with a very velvety texture. I used 1/4 t of fiori di sicilia for flavor and needed a tablespoon of lemon juice and a pinch of salt to pop my watermelon 🍉 Still will try vegan gelatin replacement next go to cut back on the arrowroot.
 
Patty H. August 16, 2018
I want to try to use agar agar in place of cornstarch to make this even healthier and bypass the “cornstarch taste.” Any suggestions on amounts?
 
akrainey August 9, 2016
Can I make watermelon pudding a day in advance? I'm concerned it will become too thick.
 
Torgny N. June 24, 2016
Another option might be to try arrowroot powder. It results in a clearer looking pudding without the starchy flavor. I can't say I've ever compared European cornstarch and American, so I can't comment on possible differences (and am obviously too lazy to look it up in the net)!
 
Alisha June 24, 2016
So, I was pleasantly surprised how easy, and delicious watermelon pudding is! I read the comments before I made this and made adjustments to to the amount of cornstarch and juice used. I used 6 cups juice, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup corn starch and it turned out perfect. It was just sweet enough, and there was no corn starchy taste. Give it a try, this is a wonderful summer dessert.
 
Torgny N. September 10, 2015
The Scandinavian dessert I mentioned in the comments only calls for 4 tablespoons of cornstarch for every 3 cups of juice, and about the same amount of sugar. You end up with a pudding rather than a Jello as in this recipe, but that might not be a bad thing. The cornstarch flavor might still come through as watermelon juice is a lot more delicate than, say the blueberry or raspberry juice called for in the Scandinavian recipe, but might be worth a try.
 
SarahBunny September 10, 2015
I agree with many of the other commentators; the simplicity, color, and watermelon flavor are lovely, but they're overwhelmed by the cornstarch flavor. I'm curious: is European cornstarch somehow different than that produced in North America? Also, has anyone tried this with reduced cornstarch yet and have some feedback? I'm not satisfied with my result cooking this recipe, but I hate to discard the idea.
 
Author Comment
Emiko September 11, 2015
Yes, thanks for pointing this out. I'm beginning to think that there is a difference between European and US cornstarch (David Lebovitz notes that there is a difference between French and US flour, for example too, and that results can differ). Since posting this recipe, I've also read of people having trouble replicating US recipes in Europe with European cornflour so I imagine it's possible that it's the same the other way around -- but I haven't had the opportunity ever to test with US cornstarch yet! So it may be possible that for this recipe to work in US kitchens that the cornstarch needs to be reduced (perhaps it's stronger?) . I only tested with Italian ingredients and as this is pretty much the ratio that you'll find Sicilian recipes use too, I am inclined to think the problem is in the different ingredients. Thanks -- if you do test with reduced cornstarch I'd love to know the results!
 
Yianna April 10, 2016
Hi Emiko & Sarahbunny, I am neither European or American, but an Australian student studying food science. Down here in Australia some of the products labelled as 'cornstarch' are in fact made from wheat starch, which I think might make a difference due to having different properties (starch granule size/shape). I am not sure whether this is also the case with starches from other parts of the world. However if both European/American cornstarch are indeed made from corn, then I assume processing differences would be the case here between regions. Thank you very much for the recipe, Emiko!
 
clara September 8, 2015
I made this over the weekend and the texture was very pasty. The flavors of watermelon, cinnamon, and pistachios were great, but we couldn't get over the texture. I don't know if it is supposed to taste this way, but it wasn't for us!
 
Author Comment
Emiko September 11, 2015
Yes this pudding has a very unique texture that I realise many non-Italians may not be used to! Glad you liked the flavours though.
 
Momof3Ms August 17, 2015
I have just been sitting here at my desk trying to decide what to do with the pile of watermelons on my back porch. I love having generous friends who share what they grow but I think 10 for our family is a bit much...lol. They just keep appearing. THIS is a perfect solution for at least one of them. It sounds like something my family would love. I cannot wait to try it tonight when I get home.
 
Knightcraft July 24, 2015
Oh my gosh!! This is what my Nonna used to make when I was little! I never even knew that anybody else made it. She would but the pieces of watermelon in a cloth and we would squeeze the juice out into a pail while sitting under the grape arbor in the back yard! <br />Your hands would get tired but it wasn't as bad as churning that darned ice cream maker! Thanks for bringing that memory back to life!
 
Author Comment
Emiko July 25, 2015
So glad this brought back memories -- this is one of my favourite things about food!
 
Kathe I. July 11, 2015
I made this today exactly according to the recipe and it is great - a perfect not too sweet dessert for hot days. I used only 1/2 c. Sugar as the watermelon was sweet enough to not need more. I think it is important to cook it until the colour intensifies, showing that the cornstarch I'd really cooked. Can't wait to try this with other fruits - have a bumper crop of blackberries almost ripe...
 
Torgny N. July 6, 2015
This is similar to a Scandinavian röd gröt (red pudding) which relies on the juice of much stronger-flavored berries. I made this recipe as directed with watermelon juice but felt the watermelon flavor was overwhelmed by the cornstarch flavor, which is almost all that came through. I'd experiment with greatly reducing the amount of cornstarch so as not to overwhelm the melon flavor.
 
Author Comment
Emiko July 7, 2015
Good to have the feedback. This is an extremely traditional recipe and these proportions are pretty much used everywhere you go in Sicily - I find it hard to debate with that! I tested this several times and found it worked just fine. No doubt the success of this recipe really depends on the watermelon used. I live in Italy and maybe the watermelons are a bit different here? But obviously choose ripe, naturally sweet ones for this! Perhaps that could help.