Watermelon Basil Granita & Black Pepper Shortbread

The You Choose, We Cook secret ingredient winner was…….BASIL! Since basil is sort of the darling of the kitchen garden and currently overrunning our yards, we’re pretty pumped that you picked this versatile and tasty ingredient.


I’m kicking things off with a sweet and savory Watermelon Basil Granita (a special treat for those of you who voted for watermelon).  I love the way basil adds herby, slighty spicy notes to the sweet, juicy watermelon. My original plan was to make sorbet but since it was my first time attempting it, I struggled to get the watermelon to produce the right silky consistency {fail! too much water, maybe?} and so decided that a slushy granita would be just as good. If you’ve got secrets for silky sorbet I’d love to hear them!

watermelon basil

Watermelon Basil Granita
4 C seedless watermelon chunks
large handful basil, finely chopped
1/2 C sugar
3 Tbsp lemon juice

Remove rind from watermelon and slice into small cubes. I used a small, seedless personal watermelon, which was just the right amount. Place chunks in a large bowl. Chop basil and add to bowl. Add sugar to bowl and mix all elements well so that basil and sugar are evenly distributed throughout. Let flavors mingle for about 20 minutes and then transfer to a food processor or blender.

Blend watermelon until fruit is pureed. Pour into a large glass bowl or brownie pan.  Freeze for 4-5 hours until mixture is fairly frozen.  Use a fork or spoon to grate mixture into slushy chunks.  Scoop into a bowl or pretty glass and serve with shortbread.

watermelon basil granita

Keeping with the sweet and savory theme, I made black pepper shortbread cookies. The hubs will tell you that I’m a bit of a pepper addict so I love the little hint of heat that these cookies have and how it adds an umami-ish component when eaten with the granita.

black pepper shortbread

Black Pepper Shortbread
*adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
2 sticks butter, softened
2 C flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 C powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
1 Tbsp granulated sugar for dusting
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 300. In a large bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar until creamy. Gradually beat in flour and salt. Dough will be clumpy and dry. Fold in black pepper so that it’s evenly distributed. Use your hands to press and form dough into a ball.

Place a layer of parchment paper on a baking sheet and place dough ball on top. Use your palms to press out dough into a round circle, about 1/4 inch thick. Traditionally, shortbread is then sliced into 8-12 pieces, like a pizza. You can do that or use a cookie cutter like I did to make small round cookies. Dust your pie pieces or cookies with a little granulated sugar. Bake for 40 minutes.

NOTE: If you like a little more zip, up the pepper to 2 tsp!



Filed under Treats

3 responses to “Watermelon Basil Granita & Black Pepper Shortbread

  1. funcitygal

    WOW. WOW. WOW.

    I am not sure which one of these I am most excited about.

    In no way am I a shortbread fan but now all I can think about is how much I want some.

    I am a watermelon freak and that just looks and sounds amazing. Lately, I have been making lemonade with basil and it is a lovely beautiful thing.

    This all sounds amazing.


  2. YUM to the Watermelon Basil Granita! That sounds amazing, as does the shortbread…I don’t think I would have ever paired shortbread and black pepper. But then again, just a few short years ago I didn’t even like pepper…
    Speaking of interesting pepper combos, the Oilerie has an amazing strawberry balsamic black pepper jam. I was skeptical at best, but I tried it and I am in love!! 🙂

  3. Pingback: {Decorative} Christmas Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing |

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