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Watermelon Taco by Gunawan Wu

Here’s a fresh dessert that’s great for summer. It has a hint of rose water and is accompanied by a lemony polenta that brings out the corn flavor and complements the taco shells and crème pâtissière. The dish is finished with a fragrant rose water chantilly cream and spiced compressed watermelon, which adds a little kick.

Yield 8 servings

Crème Pâtissière

  • 125 ml whole milk
  • 125 ml heavy cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50 g superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 15 g cornstarch
  1. Pour milk and cream into a pot and bring to a simmer.
  1. Whisk the eggs and sugar together, then whisk in the cornstarch while slowly adding the warm milk and cream. Return to the clean pot and whisk over medium heat until bubbling and thickened. Store for later use.

Spiced Compressed Watermelon Wedges

  • 150 ml simple syrup
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 medium-sized watermelon, cut into 3/4ʺ (2-cm) wedges
  1. Combine the simple syrup with the spices and sugar.
  1. Place the sliced watermelon wedges individually into vacuum bags with some of the syrup and vacuum all the air out so the spiced syrup is absorbed by the watermelon.

Rose Water Compressed Watermelon

  • 1 medium-sized watermelon
  • 100 ml simple syrup
  • 2 Tbs rose water
  1. Cut the rind off the watermelon and cut the flesh into rectangles to fit into taco shells.
  1. Combine the syrup and the rose water. Place the watermelon and some syrup into vacuum bags and vacuum all the air out so that the syrup is absorbed by the watermelon.

Lemon Polenta Cake

  • 115 g unsalted butter
  • 125 g superfine granulated sugar
  • 115 g almond meal
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 75 g eggs
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 10 ml lemon juice
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 65 g polenta flour
  • 1 g salt
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together well. Mix in the almond meal and vanilla paste, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the lemon zest, lemon juice, baking powder, polenta and salt. Scrape batter into 8ʺ (20 cm) square cake pan and bake the cake for 20-25 minutes at 350°F (180°C). Let it cool in the chiller for 6 hours or overnight.
  1. Cut the polenta cake into rectangles that are the same size as the watermelon rectangles (to fit in the taco).

Rose Water Chantilly Cream

  • 200 g heavy cream
  • 30 ml rose water
  • 30 g confectioners’ sugar
  1. Whip all ingredients together until stiff peaks form.


  • Taco shell (any kind you like)
  • Micro herbs
  • Edible flowers
  • Toasted pistachios
  1. Pipe some Crème Pâtissière into the taco, then place a Lemon Polenta Cake rectangle inside, followed by a Rose Water Compressed Watermelon rectangle. Pipe some Rose Water Chantilly Cream on top.
  1. Garnish with micro herbs, edible flowers and toasted pistachios. Place some Spiced Compressed Watermelon Wedges on the side of the taco.

(This recipe appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)

About Gunawan Wu

Gunawan Wu is the Pastry Chef-Owner of Gazoz Restaurant in Batam Island, Indonesia. His signature style in pastry is simple, yet beautiful. He gets his inspiration for new recipes from memories of things he has eaten and from his travels. At present, his current flavor favorites are savory-sweet flavor combos, and he has been experimenting with these in macarons.

Pastry Arts Magazine is the new resource for pastry & baking professionals designed to inspire, educate and connect the pastry community as an informational conduit spotlighting the trade.