Granita, granita!

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The first time I made granita I was in fourth grade. We were putting together a “cultural” cookbook and potluck lunch, and I pulled China and Italy out of the hat. After much deliberation, my Mom and I settled on Choo Choo Rice and Lemon Granita for the spread.

granita-postI don’t remember much about the Choo Choo Rice, but I do remember being enamored with granita. Who knew I could make my very own snow cone in our freezer with nothing more than a fork? My tastes have grown up since then, but my adoration of granita remains.

Granitas are a great way to show off seasonal fruits and herbs, and incredibly refreshing—whether as a palate cleanser in between courses, as a mid-day pick me up, or for dessert—in summer heat. Here are three simple steps to making your own:

Step 1 – Make a Flavorful Base – Granita is mostly water mixed with a little sweetener. Where it gets fun is in the juices and infusions you use to flavor the base. I love to use fragrant herbs, like the lemon verbena down below and different variations of basil, but zests and aromatics like ginger also work well. Blood orange makes for an especially colorful granita. You can really get creative here. Just bring the water and sweetener (honey and agave syrup work just as well as sugar) to a boil. Then turn off the heat, stir in the juice and flavorings and let steep for 30 minutes.

Step 2 – Strain and Chill – Once the mixture has steeped, strain the liquid into shallow pan and chill in the freezer for an hour.

Step 3 – Scrape it Into Granules – After an hour, the mixture will begin to form ice crystals. Use the tongs of an overturned fork to scrape the mixture and separate the granules. Freeze for another 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the consistency you want your granita to be, scraping two or three more times to keep the mixture nice and fluffy.

While water is the most common liquid to use, I’ve also been wanting to experiment with buttermilk and wine. What’s your favorite flavor of granita?

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Lemon Verbena Honey Granita

Granita is a super-simple summer dessert or appetizer that’s simply a frozen mixture of water, sugar and other flavorings. I planted a lemon verbena in our garden right near our Adirondack chairs simply because I wanted to be bathed in its heady fragrance whenever I was chilling out. And then I made this granita and fell in love with the plant even more. If you don’t have lemon verbena on hand, try lemon thyme or lemongrass, or just add the zest of another lemon.

Lemon Verbena Honey Granita

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Prep Time: 60 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Yield: Makes roughly 3 cups granita

Lemon Verbena Honey Granita

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups water
  2. 1/4 cup honey
  3. 1 tablespoon sugar
  4. 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  5. 1/4 cup lemon verbena leaves, muddled in a mortar and pestle

Instructions

Bring water, honey and sugar to a boil. Turn off heat, stir in lemon juice, zest and verbena. Let steep for 30 minutes.

Strain liquid into a shallow baking pan and place in freezer. After an hour, scrape the mixture with the tines of an overturned fork. Freeze for another 30 minutes to an hour, scraping two or three more times, until the texture is nice and fluffy.

Notes

Prep Time: 60-90 minutes (includes chilling time)

http://nourishnetwork.com/2010/06/26/granita-granita/

  • http://JacquelineChurch Jacqueline Church

    Current granita variety is espresso with touch of cocoa from Poor Girl Gourmet. I love how light they are – perfect for summer. Herbs like lemon verbena, Thai basil and such make for terrific mid meal treats or mixed with sweets grown up flavors.

    Buttermilk sounds very intriguing!

  • http://www.palatetopen.com Jenious

    I made granita (with sangria) for the first time last summer and it also captured my fancy. Yours looks/sounds rich with zesty flavors.

  • http://nourishnetwork.com/members/liahuber/ Lia Huber

    Jackie … I like the idea of an espresso granita.

    Jenious … Was the sangria one outstanding? I think that one’s next on my list. That and a cherry buttermilk :-).