Virgin Recipe: Melon Bubble

No, not this Bubble:

Unlike Eddie Monsoon’s personal assistant, Melon Bubble is a deceptively simple-looking recipe, consisting mainly of melon balls suspended in  Jell-O. I went into this expecting it to be a bit of a dawdle, but found it to be pleasantly involving.

a baby watermelon, a box of lemon Jell-O, and a bottle of Cointreau

Melon Bubble ingredients

First, I had to make the melon balls. I chose this “baby watermelon” partly on the basis of the possible visual impact of deep pink balls in lemon Jell-O, and partly because every goddamn fruit salad I order in a restaurant is half cantaloupe and honeydew chunks, so I’m tired of those melons – but largely because our summer weather hasn’t let up yet, and despite the drought I’m happy enough for summer to last as long as possible.

That was really the only discretion I had in the recipe. Otherwise, the Jell-O is prepared as usual, but with 1/4 cup of cold water replaced by 1/4 cup of Cointreau. I set aside 2/3 cup of the liquid Jell-O, thickened the remaining 1 1/3 cup, added the watermelon balls, put the Jell-O/balls in serving glasses, and popped the lot in the fridge. Then, the fun part – I thickened the 2/3 cup Jell-O a little bit, then went to town with my trusty Mixmaster Junior until it was thick and fluffy. The fluff went on top of the Jell-O/balls, et voila! Melon Bubble á la Freak Mountain.

two glass dessert dishes with lemon Jell-O with watermelon balls and lemon Jell-O fluff on top

Melon Bubble á la Freak Mountain

I was happy with the way it turned out, visually, but Bryan (who is red/green colorblind) remarked that it looked as though some giant alien frogs had laid tadpole eggs in our dessert glasses. Ew.

photo of Melon Bubble from The New Joys of Jell-O

Melon Bubble circa 1974

Luckily, it takes more than that to put me off my food. For eating, Melon Bubble is pretty good. The Cointreau cuts the sweetness of the Jell-O and adds a nice complexity to the flavor of the dish – which didn’t really surprise me, since I’ve found that to be the case with other Jell-O recipes that include some sort of alcoholic beverage. Alcohol turns Jell-O into a grownup dessert, and the tart orange flavor of the Cointreau made the lemon Jell-O downright refreshing. The mild taste of the watermelon was a nice contrast here. The aftertaste is actually rather nice, as well.

I liked the Jell-O foam on top (the stuff fascinates me for some reason) but Bryan groused that it was “too stiff”. I think he was expecting it to have a more creamy texture, probably an expectation set by all the bavarians we’ve been having lately.

My only regret with this one is that I don’t have a glass serving dish, because I think this would have looked better in a large dish rather than in individual glasses. There’s another one coming up that would do well with a glass serving dish presentation, so maybe we’ll head up to the Cambridge Antique Market sometime soon…

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