watermelon jello with coconut panna cotta {recipe}

As I write this, we are in the midst of the first snowstorm of the season here in Toronto. UGH. Have a ever told you that I am NOT a winter person? Lucky for me, I recently made an incredibly light and summery dessert so I’m enjoying a nice taste of summer while trying my best to ignore the snow piling up on my doorstep.

For me, nothing tastes like summer quite like watermelon. I absolutely love it! So, when the National Watermelon Promotion Board asked me to create a recipe to show off the joys of watermelon year-round, I jumped at the opportunity. Although this is a sponsored post (see my disclosure blurb at the end of the post), I eat watermelon every chance I get so it was fun to try and create a recipe from one of my favourite fruits.

While watermelon is mainly considered a summer fruit, like many other produce, it’s actually available all year round. While it might be a bit more expensive in the wintertime, and a bit harder to find, it still offers a great value and who doesn’t want a taste of the summer during the long, cold winter months?

Some really cool watermelon facts:

  • Watermelon is 92% water and an excellent hydrator.
  • Watermelon is nutritent dense. With only 46 calories per one cup serving, it’s a good
    source of Vitamin C, Thiamine (vitamin B1), Vitamin B6 (also a source of pantothenic acid and magnesium) and Vitamin A.
  • Watermelon contains high levels of the antioxidant lycopene – a 300 g (2 cup) serving of
    watermelon contains 18.16 mg. Proponents claim that lycopene may lower the risk of heart
    disease and is also said to lower LDL (“bad” cholesterol), enhance the body’s defenses, and protect
    enzymes, DNA, and cellular fats.

For more information about this refreshing fruit, check out watermelon.org for more facts, tip and a whole pile of recipes.

Since I’m the type of food blogger who loves a challenge, I decided to make not one, but TWO things I had never made before and merge them together – watermelon-mint jello and coconut-vanilla panna cotta. After looking online for similar recipes, I adapted and experimented with several before coming up with a recipe that worked for me. The result (which, I have to say, turned out even better than I had imagined) was a beautiful, light and absolutely refreshing dessert. You can even make the jello on its own for a pop of summer at any time.

The amount of serving size really depends on how large your serving glasses are. You can see from the photos that I used both stemless wine glasses and those cute little yogurt jars. Personally I think the little yogurt jars were the perfect size – and this recipe could fill about 10 of them, depending on your jello-panna cotta ratio.


watermelon jello with coconut panna cotta
recipe creator:
recipe type: dessert
For the jello:
  • 2 cups fresh watermelon juice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp unflavoured gelatin powder
For the panna cotta:
  • 1 vanilla bean (optional)
  • 13-14 oz of coconut milk (1 can)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup + 4 tsp water
  • 3 tsp unflavoured gelatin powder
For the jello:
  1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, bring the watermelon juice, sugar and mint leaves to a simmer. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
  2. Taste the juice to see how the flavours develop and once you are happy with the flavour, remove it from the heat, strain and set the strained juice aside to cool
  3. Place the water in a shallow bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the water (sprinkle it around evenly). Let stand 5 minutes.
  4. Add the gelatin to the warm watermelon juice and stir until fully incorporated.
  5. Pour equal amounts into your serving glasses and chill for at least 4 hours or until set.
For the panna cotta:
  1. (If using the vanilla bean) Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the coconut milk, cream, sugar, salt vanilla seeds and vanilla bean shell until hot, but not simmering. Stir frequently.
  3. Remove the vanilla bean shell from the sauce pan.
  4. Remove the sauce pan from the heat and set aside.
  5. Place the water in a shallow bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the water (sprinkle it around evenly). Let stand 5 minutes.
  6. Add the gelatin to the coconut mixture and stir until fully incorporated.
  7. Let the coconut mixture cool until you can pour it onto the jello without melting the jello.
  8. Pour equal amounts of the coconut mixture on top of the watermlon jello in your serving glasses and chill for at least 4 hours or until set.


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post – I received financial compensation from the National Watermelon Promotion Board for developing this recipe and writing this post. However, the post was not reviewed by the sponsor prior to publication and all opinions expressed are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.

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