I can't think of a better way to spend a hot August afternoon than gnawing on slabs of ripe watermelon, spitting the seeds from the back stoop, and letting the sticky juices run free. This punch spiffs things up a bit while still reveling in the celebratory vibe of late summer. Inspired by watermelon agua frescas and mojitos, this vibrant punch is playful enough to serve at a kid's birthday or family picnic, or you can always spike the bowl with a bit of light rum and have yourself a summery cocktail.
Tip: Chill the simple syrup and watermelon puree for a few hours before you want to serve the punch. If time doesn't allow for pre-chilling, just add plenty of ice to your punch, and you'll be good to go.
1. First, make your simple syrup: Combine ½ cup of the sugar and the water in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Let cool.
2. Cut off the watermelon rind and remove the seeds, if there are any. Fill a standing blender with watermelon chunks. Using your fingers or a wooden spoon, push down the watermelon until it releases a bunch of juice—this released liquid will help make blending easier. Blend thoroughly. Puree another batch of melon if you need to. After pureeing, you should have about 4 cups watermelon juice. You can strain the watermelon pulp at this point, but I really prefer the thicker texture with the pulp left in. Chill the puree in the fridge for a couple of hours.
3. Juice the limes until you have ¼ to ⅓ cup of juice. Coarsely chop the mint leaves. Crush the mint with the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar using a mortar and pestle, if you have one. Otherwise use a wooden spoon in a bowl to pulverize the mint and sugar. When you're done, you will have a well-integrated mint-sugar paste. Stir the paste into the lime juice.
4. Mix the pureed watermelon with the lime-mint-sugar mixture. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the simple syrup. Taste for sweetness. How much simple syrup you need will depend on the natural sugar content of your watermelon and your own personal preference for sweetness. (Leftover simple syrup can be refrigerated and put to other uses in cocktails, or to sweeten your iced coffee or tea.)
5. Served the punch chilled. Give it a good stir before serving to integrate the ingredients. If you want to transform this punch into a cocktail, I suggest adding 2 tablespoons rum to each cup of punch.
6. Invite some friends over to enjoy this with some delicious Prawns on Lemongrass Skewers, straight from the grill!
|Reprinted from “Yummy Supper” by Erin Scott. Copyright (c) 2014 by Erin Scott. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.|