Friday, August 7, 2009

Watermelon Bars

These are simple bars made using watermelon juice and agar agar flakes.Agar agar or chinagrass or simply agar is a vegan equivalent to gelatin .It is available in powdered and flakes form.Agar is the Malaysian word for jelly and it is obtained from seaweed.It is a gelatinous substance but is plant based only unlike gelatin. I had obtained unflavoured agar agar in flakes and made these melon bars or jelly just to see how they work compared to the normal gelatin we use.They worked much better than expected.

Watermelon Juice: 1. 25 cups
Water: 1.25 cup (1/2 + 3/4 cup)
Sugar: 4 tbsp+/-
Agar Agar Flakes: roughly chopped 5 gms unflavoured (white)

I blended almost 1.25 cups of watermelon with little water to obtain around 1.25 cups of juice which I strained and kept aside.You can also use storebought juice as well.

Roughly chop agar agar flakes and soak them in 1/2 cup of water for atleast 15 minutes.

In a sauce pan,heat 3/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar and stir well till the sugar dissolves.Squeeze the agar agar flakes and add them to the sugar water mix and simmer till the agar agar dissolves completely stirring continually.This takes just 5-7 minutes.

Once clear liquid is obtained,remove from heat ,and add the watermelon juice and mix well.

Pour the mix into serving bowls or a big container or any dish of your preference.Let it attain room temperature.Then chill it in the fridge till serving time or for atleast 30 minutes.

Serve by cutting into bars or any shape if you have chilled in a single big container.Else simply handover the invidual bowls just as you would do for a jello dish.

I inverted the container onto a plate,cut into bars....

Since I did not want to serve it simply as such,I served it with sweetened whipped cream and garnished with chopped roasted almonds.

This made the dessert plate look great and the taste was exactly 'jello"-ish.

I had actually used 1.5 cups of juice while making this jelly.While taking pics,I found that after 15-20 minutes,it started becoming watery very slowly.On chilling again,it stopped liquifying.One reason is it was extremely hot that day and I took pics in afternoon.Another more plausible reason is that the amount of juice was more.So if using 1.5 cup of juice increase the quantity of agar flakes to 1 gms more. Also instead of agar flakes which requires soaking and can be slightly messy,you can use powdered agar agar around 1-2 tsp (updated on 13th Aug,09: and not 1 tbsp) equivalent to 5 gms of flakes.

Also rather than making the water sugar mix,you can directly add sugar while blending the melon.In this case,simply boil 3/4 cup of water and then add chopped,squeezed agar flakes and continue the recipe.Also honey or agave nectar or any other sweetener can be used or even avoided depending on the sweetness of your melon.

Agar sets much faster than gelatin and requires very less chilling time compared to it.Agar has has health aspects as well.It reduces the body heat and is said to control bad cholestrol.It is supposedly rich in calcium,iron,minerals etc.You can also find some info here

The lovely and extremely delish watermelon bars are off to Monthly Mingle:Marvellous Melon an event by Meeta and currently hosted at ChewOnThatBlog


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