desserts, jeni's spinalong

The Jeni’s Spinalong series: grilled cantaloupe sorbet.



It’s June 1st, which means lots of things in the midwest: children yell at each other from bicycles and skateboards, neighborhood pools are packed with bodies and beach balls, and markets are filled to the brim with fresh fruit and vegetables and it is amazing.

And it’s time for a new installment of the Jeni’s Spinalong. Hooray! Remember that time I made this sticky bun ice cream with cinnamon-pecan swirl? That was the inaugural Spinalong post, and this is the second in that series.

As you know, I’m #teamjenis forever. I have other ice cream cookbooks in my library, to be sure, but Jeni’s two cookbooks are a huge source of inspiration for me. The flavors! The ingredient combinations! The liberal application of crazy-awesome! I love it all. Everything seems incredibly well thought out but whimsical at the same time, and for me, that’s what ice cream should be about.

Jeni’s books taught me how to make ice cream and be confident about it. I loved her take on it; taking eggs out of the equation makes it less terrifying to make ice cream and allows the flavors to take center stage, like coloring on a bright white paper pad versus a yellow one. The books also taught me how to properly layer jams and mixins into my ice creams, how to make sauces and gravels, and just how to be a total rock star with ice cream.

And now, dum-dah-dah-DUM! Jeni’s is opening a store this week in St. Louis – Central West End, to be precise. There is a party; I really want to go. Not sure how I’m going to accomplish this yet, because there’s a small matter of probably-large lines, a free mug, and a 4 year-old who I’m sure will want to come, but i’ll figure it out. Dear Jeni: hopefully I’ll see you and not act incredibly nerdy on Thursday. Chances are I will act nerdy, however, so just be ready for that.

grilled cantaloupe sorbet.
Until then, I give you my Jeni’s Spinalong offering for this season: summer. And what could be better than a sorbet right now? Nothing. Natalie at Wee Eats and I do the project jointly, using criteria we set together. Here are this season’s rules:

Theme: Summer Vacation

Foundation Ice Cream: A fruit sorbet of our own choosing

grilled cantaloupe sorbet.
I’ve been working with grilled things for the past few months for a project: at some point, i grilled melons. As it turns out, melons – especially cantaloupe – are spectacular. You can’t keep them over a flame for long, but the minute or two of grilling imparts a smoky flavor to ripe cantaloupe that turns it into something special. Sorbets are always pretty great: bright and fresh and exceedingly summery, but I wanted to know what it would be like to give that brightness a little bit of dark mystery.

I’m here to tell you: it totally works. it’s just like fresh frozen cantaloupe, but with a subtle flavor that will instantly transport you to your patio on a summer evening. It’s very middle-summer: long evenings and multicolored sunsets and it’s the best. I based it on the recipe for Riesling-Poached Pear Sorbet from the first book, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home. Grilling is sort of like caveman poaching, right? For fruit, maybe: it gets the sugars going, softens things up, etc. I liked the pairing of wine and melon, but I opted to use Pino Grigio, which I think works wonderfully with the melon here.

Natalie, on the other hand, went for the quintessential summer of our collective Midwestern childhoods by combining two flavors we grew up with: ruby red watermelons and tart lemonade. She is brilliant for picking this one, because it screams summer and is the most beautiful color in the land. Head over to Wee Eats to get the recipe for her Watermelon Lemonade Popsicles, because not only it amazing, she mixed it up by making it in popsicle format. She used a recipe from the first book like I did, but I’ll let her tell you more about that. Needless to say, she totally knows how to do summer. And she knows how to give tips on how to make the perfect summer popsicle, which seems like a no-brainer, but I’m here to tell you that popsicles fail easily if you don’t know what you’re doing.

grilled cantaloupe sorbet.
I suggest making these together and throwing a summer party. How perfect would either one of these be for an apres-burger dessert? And it could go swanky, too: maybe make this as a sweet treat after a big platter of steak and vegetables this summer. Whatever you you can think of, I bet these sorbets fit right in.

I sort of can’t wait for our next Spinalong installment: right now, we’re doing these quarterly, so you’ll have to wait until September 1, but if it keeps being this fun, i don’t know…i feel like it could be monthly at some point. I can feel Natalie getting angry at me for saying that but I cannot be contained.

Adapted from a recipe for Riesling-Poached Pear Sorbet found in Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home by the equally splendid Jeni Britton Bauer.

 Grilled Cantaloupe Sorbet

  •  1 1/2 lbs cantaloupe, ripe but firm, peeled, seeded, and sliced into crescents*
  • 3 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup good-quality Pino Grigio (you pick your favorite)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup

*That’s the weight after the melons have been peeled and seeded; you’ll need 1 1/2 cups total fruit, which amounts to about 3/4 of a medium-sized cantaloupe.

Prepare a grill for medium-high heat (alternatively, this works well indoors on a heavy grill pan). Oil grates well, and brush cantaloupe slices lightly on both sides with oil. Place slices over indirect heat and grill for 1 to 2 minutes until grill marks form but fruit is still firm. Flip and grill for 1 minute longer, then remove to a platter to cool.

Meanwhile, heat sugar, wine, and water over medium heat; bring to a boil and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in corn syrup until incorporated; allow to cool down slightly.

Once fruit and liquids are cooled down to room temperature or lukewarm, throw all the ingredients together in a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Force through a fine mesh strainer, and by “force” I mean “keep pushing until you just can’t push no more.” Once the initial liquids are through, there will be solids: don’t stop. Keep going until a very small amount of those solids remain: a few tablespoons of leftover is normal.

Place in a bowl and submerge in an ice bath, OR fill a heavy duty Ziploc zipper bag with the mixture and submerge until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour (or more, which is totally acceptable; it needs to be completely cold to spin properly.)

Place in ice cream maker and spin according to manufacturer’s instructions, until the mixture is the consistency of – and I’ll use Jeni’s words for this since it’s a perfect way to put this – softly whipped ice cream. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm, 4 hours or more.

You did it! Now pop that ice cream canister back in the freezer so you can make Natalie’s Watermelon Lemonade Popsicles.  You’ll be happy you did, and they’re so easy do it do it do it.

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  • Reply Brianne June 1, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Holy. God. Must. Eat. This.

    I need to make some dang ice cream this summer! When we moved over the winter, we moved to the town that houses our favorite ice cream shop in the state, so…we go there a lot. But they sure don’t have awesome flavors like this! I dig this so much. I love your creativity here! I’m so eager for summer fruit!

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 8:47 am

      You MUST!

      I’m going to encourage this, Brianne: making ice cream when it’s hot is super satisfying, and you should do it. Period. Awesome flavors begin at home, i think, because really, what can’t you do with an ice cream maker and your thoughts? DO IT.

  • Reply Monica June 1, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    This is just awesome! I love cantaloupe but have never grilled it…and funny enough, as we’re grilling lately and we were doing pork chops and some peaches on Saturday, my husband and I were talking about other fruits to grill. Never would have thought of cantaloupe or to make a sorbet out of it. Love how you ladies take me out of my chocolate-box!

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 8:39 am

      Pork chops and peaches on the grill are one of the best things about summer: SO delicious and perfect together, for sure! I promise you, cantaloupe really works: i feel like it would be great with chicken or even as a side for a sturdy white fish. Or honestly, just grilled for dessert, it totally works. I like taking your out of your chocolate box, Monica. 🙂

  • Reply John@Kitchen Riffs June 1, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    I’ve grilled cantaloupe before. And you’re right, it is spectacular! Never ever thought of putting it into frozen form, though. Really like the idea of this sorbet — thanks.

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 8:36 am

      I’m so happy to hear you’ve tried grilled cantaloupe before! Definitely gives it a nice flavor, especially when you get a melon that maybe isn’t as sweet as you want it to be, because i feel like grilling it even for that minute or two goes a long way to get the sugars going. thanks!

  • Reply faygie June 1, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    This sounds INCREDIBLE!! Cantaloupe is my favorite melon. I’ve never tried it grilled, but it sounds like it would be amazing. And in sorbet form, with white wine included? I WANT!

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 8:35 am

      Hooray for cantaloupes! They’re definitely one of my favorite melons too, second…well second sometimes to nothing, but it trades places with watermelon on occasion. 🙂 It’s pretty awesome grilled: it doesn’t change the flavor completely, but rather it sort of lets the best part of what’s great about cantaloupe shine through, plus it gives it a little smokiness at the end, which tweaks the whole thing just enough to be interesting. When it gets really hot or you have the grill going, throw some on there and see how you like it.

  • Reply movita beaucoup June 2, 2015 at 4:11 am

    It’s June 2nd and OUR HEAT JUST CAME ON. One day, when summer comes to where I live, I will bust out my ice cream maker and make treats like grilled cantaloupe sorbet. Until then, I guess I’ll be eating stew.

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Sometimes when it gets unreasonably hot really early in the spring (i don’t believe in above-75 temps until June 1, so i’m annually betrayed by our fickle midwestern weather), i think about Canada. And how wonderful it must be where YOU are in the spring because it’s sort of like a little dream world up there of cooler temps.

      This year is probably not the best example being that you had snow until what…last week? so maybe other years would have been more of a springtime wonderland than this year was for you. I felt your pain with all that snow. I can’t imagine.

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats June 2, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    I’m loving this ice cream – you’re a freaking magician for finding a way to put grill flavor into ice cream. A FREAKING MAGICIAN!!! And, honestly, the more we talk about ‘monthly’ the more it sounds like an excellent idea. We may have to ease into it though, ya know? AND YOUR DREAM IS COMING TRUE!! HOW EXCITING IS THAT!?!

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 8:30 am

      You know that going into this i was only about 34% sure it would even WORK, so i feel like it’s less genius and more “let’s spitball and see what sticks” around this kitchen, if you know what i mean.

      So are we doing monthly? Let’s discuss this more at length because i’m in if you are, and i think we could start…SPOILER ALERT NOT GOING TO SAY PUBLICLY LOL. we’ll talk about logistics today.

  • Reply Ashley June 2, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    I volunteer as monthly tribute! Maybe you have a rotating cast of spinalong partners? Just an idea, though I doubt anyone can rival Natalie in the perfect partner in crime department 🙂

    And I had a cantaloupe flavor of Jeni’s sometime last year and it blew my mind. No joke. I’m not even much of a melon person, but it inspired a strong love and craving for melon… I think it was partnered with sweet tea, or something of that ilk. So summery and refreshing.

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 8:21 am

      Ashley, if anyone has proven themselves worthy to be a Jeni’s Spinalong guest spinner, it’s you. The whole goal when we began this was to get people to start thinking out of the box with ice cream, so here’s what i’m going to do: once we figure out the criteria for the next quarter’s spinalong, i’ll send it to you and we’ll see what you come up with. If you’re back to blogging by then, even better! 🙂 *HINT HINT*

      She has one in the Desserts book that’s a cantaloupe/something boozy one and it looked really good…i think when i saw that one it confirmed that cantaloupe could work in the one I picked (hard to tell with some fruits if the flavor will stand up to freezing, or if structurally it will work). i’m a specific melon person: so i’m not a “just any melon” person, and i can appreciate people NOT being melon people, totally, but the right melon in the summer can be amazing. I like that you have an open mind even though you’re not a big melon person.

      i giggled at that last thing i typed and i’m going to leave it in b/c i just am. #bigmelons

  • Reply Abbe @ This is How I Cook June 3, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    I’m here to tell you that this like, totally rocks! What an awesome ice! I am normally a chocolate person, but I must grow a little and this is worth growing into! Next dinner party-this be it!

    • Reply shannon June 17, 2015 at 8:12 am

      Yay! I’m happy you like it, Abbe! This one was a fun one, and the color really sort of did it for me; i think cantaloupe color may be one of my favorites, and i was happy that it didn’t fade or discolor even with the grill marks blended in. this would make a great dinner-party sorbet: even as sort of a fun riff on a palate cleanser – you get that subtle smokey flavor from the grill but it’s still super refreshing.

  • Reply Willow @ Will Cook For Friends June 19, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    *Swoon* I never would have thought to grill melons, but now I absolutely must! This sounds like summer, perfected!

  • Reply Jennie @onesweetmess August 11, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    I love how nerdy you get over Jeni’s. I’m extremely jealous that she’s opening a store in your neck of the woods and not mine. I must say, we do have some really great ice cream shops in the local area, one of which I happened upon last week on my venture to a local antique shop. Grilled cantaloupe sounds fabulous.

  • Reply grilled cantaloupe salad with hot paprika vinaigrette. – A Periodic Table July 13, 2017 at 10:18 am

    […] get enough melons in your body right now and you’re in the mood for something colder, I made this grilled cantaloupe sorbet after I developed this salad and because of my immediate love for what grilling can do for fruit: […]

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