melon sorbet + peach cashew shortbread bars

melon and peach bars 1

It’s a two for one recipe day today and there’s zero connection here, save for the summer fruit and some excitement on my part.

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First up: the sorbet.  I just enjoyed a frosty scoop topped with a generous pour of vodka and a squeeze of lime.  Highly recommended.  It has been a loooong week in these parts.  The sorbet here was born out of an over-abundance of melons from our CSA.  We may be the only people on the block who are not melons’ biggest fans, so 1 giant melon per week + 2 not so giant melon eaters = serious melon issues.  Lucky for us, we decided to put our vitamix into action and freeze those melons which transforms them into something entirely more likeable, even delicious.  For anyone on the east coast who’s still in the thick of summer heat and humidity, this recipe is for you.  It’s about the most refreshing and lovely thing you can possibly slurp on a hot afternoon and tastes pretty perfect topped with vodka or tequila to boot.  Plus, being frozen and all, it’s essentially non-perishable…unlike the melons themselves.

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And for the second act: peach cashew shortbread bars.  I made these on a whim one night this week, when the sudden urge to bake struck around 9pm.  It was entirely worth the late night, because these are hands down the best thing I’ve baked all summer.  A riff on a recipe recently posted on the lovely Smitten Kitchen (pistachio apricot bars), they are insanely addictive.  Because I had neither pistachios nor apricots, I used a bag of trader joes’ cashews for the nut part and a couple of peaches we shamefully stole from a recent Sonoma winery tour…can’t take us anywhere.  Since the cashews were pretty tame, and because we are total anise junkies, I added in a few drops of anise extract and a pinch of anise seeds, which made for a bewitching combination with the honey-sweet peaches, and something I will definitely come back to.  We’re talking thick, buttery shortbread, topped with homemade nut paste (think frangipane or rustic macaroon texture) and a layer of thinly sliced fruit – heaven.

Happy Friday!

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melon sorbet

  • 1 large melon, peeled and cubed (I tend to steer clear of the melon that’s close to the skin as it can be a little bitter – taste your melon and use as much or as little as you like.)
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar or honey (I used sugar)
  • The juice of one lime or ½ a lemon (I used lime)

Combine the melon, sugar, and citrus juice in a blender or food processor – if you have a blender (especially a vitamix) here’s the place to use it.  Puree until the fruit is completely liquefied and smooth.  Taste for sweetness and acidity and add more sugar/citrus as you like – this will really vary depending on your melon.

Transfer to a bowl or Tupperware and refrigerate several hours until ice cold, then freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker until frozen and icy – about 15 minutes in most machines.  Unlike many ice creams, this sorbet can be eaten directly out of the machine.  If you’re going to hold it, of course transfer to a sealed container and freeze.  Before serving, microwave a few seconds at a time (stirring after each) or use a hot water bath just to return the sorbet to its smooth texture – I find it froze into a block of ice and needed a little warmth to be spoon-able.  If you’re without an ice cream maker, I’m sure this would work granita-style: freeze in a wide shallow pan or container, stirring every 30 minutes until frozen to your liking.

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peach and cashew shortbread bars with anise

I won’t bother re-printing the recipe, since Deb does such a wonderful job here.

Here are my notes & edits:

  • I replaced the pistachios with toasted cashews.
  • I replaced the almond extract with a few drops of anise extract and ½ tsp anise seeds.
  • I replaced the apricots with two medium sized ripe peaches, each quartered and cut in thin slices.  (I think the 2lbs of fruit called for in Deb’s recipe is a little high; 1 lb should be plenty.)
  • Also, I would steer clear of the glaze option as I think it would bring too much sweetness and just dust your bars with powdered sugar.
  • Next up?  A Christmas or Turkey-Day version of these delicious bars with pecans subbed for the pistachios, a dash of cinnamon and allspice, and topped with fresh cranberries.

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