August 29, 2009

Chocolate-Dipped Watermelon

First, a warning: making dehydrated watermelon is not labor-intensive, but it is time- and oven-intensive. In my electric oven, the process took a little over 10 hours on the lowest setting, but your times may vary. If you have a dehydrator, the process might up to twice as long, but it will require less checking and flipping of the watermelon slices.

Because the dehydrated watermelon is so sweet, I like dipping them in extra-bitter chocolate to balance the fruity sweetness. I also like finishing the candies with a sprinkle of salt on the chocolate, again to counteract the sweet taste, but this step is optional.
Cook Time: 12 hours,
Ingredients:

* 1.5 lbs watermelon flesh
* 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
* Salt, to taste (optional)

Preparation:

1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil. Turn the oven to 150 degrees, or its lowest setting.

2. Slice the watermelon into 2x4 inch rectangles ½ inch thick. Place the slices on the baking sheet. You can let the slices touch each other, as they will shrink during the dehydration process.

3. Place the baking sheet in the oven and let them cook for the next 10-12 hours. Check the slices and rotate the sheet pan every two hours. About halfway through the baking time, flip the slices over and continue to cook. The watermelon will be done when it is no longer sticky to the touch. The texture will be chewy and leathery, and the slices will have lost almost half of their size.

4. Remove the finished watermelon from the oven, and place it on a drying rack to cool completely. It can be cooled and dried overnight, if desired.

5. Cut the dried melon into sizes of your choice. I like 1x1 inch squares, perfect for two bites.

6. Melt and temper the chocolate, if desired. Dip each piece of watermelon in the chocolate using dipping tools or two forks. Repeat with remaining watermelon pieces.

7. If desired, sprinkle the tops of the candies with a small amount of salt while the chocolate is still wet. Place the candies in the refrigerator to set the chocolate for 20 minutes. Store the finished candies in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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