Behind The Recipe: Frozen Watermelon-Lime Bars

One of our food editors turns a beloved pie into a frozen indulgence for the summer.
watermelon-lime bars

Have you ever had a key lime pie? Me too. Who hasn’t? There are lots of variations on the theme, but they all have one thing in common (aside from lime juice): They’re all pies.

I like key lime pie. I especially like two versions: my Mom’s (hi Mom) and Steve’s. Steve’s key lime pie comes from his place in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and it’s frozen. I had Steve’s frozen dessert one hot summer day, and it changed the way I think about key lime pie. I started thinking about it not as pie, but as frozen custard, like ice cream or semifreddo. That’s what I want for dessert in the summer—something frozen.

That was my thought process when I started developing the recipe for Frozen Watermelon-Lime Bars. The problem was that my frozen lime pie filling eaten straight was too rich and intense. It needed a chaser, the way a creamsicle uses an icy orange shell to balance the creamy center.

I turned to the juicy watermelons of August to offset the richness of my frozen pie filling. When I consulted Kempy Minifie, Gourmet’s Executive Food Editor, she pointed me towards a watermelon sorbet she had developed for the cover of Gourmet’s August 1994 issue. I tried a slight variation of the recipe, substituting tequila for Kempy’s sambuca, then I topped it with the frozen lime semifreddo. Sure enough, the bracing freshness of the icy watermelon sorbet was exactly what the rich, creamy lime semifreddo needed to balance it. Like a creamsicle, just all grown up.

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