Yasmin Newman's Watermelon Ice With Mango, Coconut Jelly & Ube Jam

A beloved dessert made with a kaleidoscope of sweet and savoury mix-ins

Try this version of halo halo with watermelon granita and coconut milk. Photo / Supplied

Our most-loved dessert is arguably halo halo. A mountain of shaved ice drenched in creamy evaporated milk, this refreshing drink-cum-treat descends from Japanese kakigori.

Consumed daily, it offers a hallowed moment of pleasure and reprieve from the oppressive heat. Made with a kaleidoscope of sweet and savoury mix-ins from leche flan to candied beans, halo halo (meaning mix mix, signalling the action of bringing it all together), is as endless as your imagination.

This beautiful version with watermelon granita and coconut milk in place of shaved ice and evaporated and condensed milks is inspired by island life on Siargao, where colourful tropical fruit is always at hands’ reach.

For me, it’s even more special served in natural bowls made from pineapple (as I have done here), baby watermelon or dragon fruit shells or young coconut husks, but it looks and tastes just as good in a traditional sundae glass or bowl.

WATERMELON ICE (HALO HALO) RECIPE
Makes 4

2 baby or small pineapples (optional)
1 mango, thinly sliced or scooped into balls
1 star apple, dragon fruit or star fruit, cut into wedges (or use apple or kiwifruit)
Handful of lychees, peeled and pitted
1 cup nata de coco or kaong (preserved sugar palm fruit), drained
100g ube jam*
1 young coconut, flesh scraped into thin ribbons
Handful of butterfly pea flowers or other edible flowers
1/3 cup pinipig (pounded rice flakes), toasted
625ml coconut milk

Watermelon Granita
¼ seedless watermelon (about 1kg), rind removed
1 cup caster sugar

1. To make the watermelon granita, place the watermelon in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain, discarding the solids and measure out 1.25 litres of juice. Place the sugar and half the watermelon juice in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Transfer the mixture and the remaining watermelon juice to a large container and freeze for 1 hour or until frozen. Using a fork, scrape the watermelon granita into ice crystals. Freeze until needed.

3. Meanwhile, if you’d like to make pineapple bowls, cut the pineapples in half lengthways, then cut out the flesh, keeping the skin intact. Reserve the flesh for another use.

4. To serve, divide the watermelon granita among the pineapple bowls, then top with the mango, star apple, dragonfruit or star fruit, lychees, nata de coco or kaong, yam jam, coconut, flowers and pinipig. Drizzle over the coconut milk and serve immediately.

• Condiment made from purple yams, available from some speciality Asian grocers

Recipe extracted from 'Under Coconut Skies' by Yasmin Newman, published by Smith Street Books, $55.

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