Perfect Granita

It is the hottest day of the year. You’ve served duck confit, whole trout, and bread puddings after working over the oven, stove, and grill for several hours. And for dessert, you think anybody wants that triple-layered flourless chocolate cake with port-flavored ganache? Try something light and cool, and simple to make. Granita:

DSCN5868

I’m not a huge fan of baking complicated pastries/cakes, so granita makes for the perfect dessert. It is flavored ice, usually coarser than a sherbet, though that depends on what part of Italy you’re in. Granita is originally from Sicily, though it also has Persian and Turkish roots. Italy did likely introduce it to France, where it was first eaten around 1580 during the reign of Henry III (this was around the same time that they began using forks…).

I’ve blended recipes, played with ratios, and now have a foolproof recipe. Pictured is Cinnamon Basil Lime granita (inspired by the cinnamon basil ice cream). It is a great use for seasonal fruits and vegetables, or if you’ve got a bumper crop of an herb. Here are three of my favorites.

Cinnamon Basil Lime Granita

Serves 6-8

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup water

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1 1/4 fresh lime juice (about 6-7 limes)

2 tsps cinnamon

Bring the sugar, water, and basil to a boil. Remove from heat, add cinnamon and let steep for 30 minutes. Add lime juice and pass through a sieve into a shallow glass cooking dish (the 11″ x 7″ pyrex dish is best), squeezing the basil. Pop into the freezer for at least 4 hours, but overnight is best. Just before you’re ready to serve, use a sturdy fork to scrape the ice, creating a fluffy mound of ice crystals. Spoon into chilled glasses. Garnish with basil leaves.

Cranberry Granita

Good for the end to an autumn meal, avoiding the groans of guests forced to eat pie.

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup water

1 cup cranberries

1/4 cup orange juice

squeeze of a lemon

splash of port

Boil sugar and water until sugar dissolves. Puree cranberries, orange juice, lemon squeeze, and port in a blender. Mix sugar water and fruit in shallow glass dish (11″ x 7″ pyrex is best), and freeze for at least 4 hours, but overnight is best. Just before you’re ready to serve, use a sturdy fork to scrape the ice, creating a fluffy mound of ice crystals. Spoon into chilled glasses. Garnish with fresh cranberries.

Butternut Squash Granita with Rosemary Whipped Cream

They said it wouldn’t work. They said it would be gross. They were wrong.

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cup water

2 cups fresh butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/4 cup apple cider

squeeze of lemon

splash of calvados

1 cup whipping cream

1 Tbs dried rosemary

Roast squash cubes at 400°F for ~15 minutes, or until soft and beginning to brown. Bring sugars and water to a boil until sugars dissolve. Puree squash, apple cider, lemon squeeze, and calvados until smooth. You won’t strain this, so be sure it is smooth. Mix sugar water and fruit in shallow glass dish (11″ x 7″ pyrex is best), and freeze for at least 4 hours, but overnight is best. Just before you’re ready to serve, use a sturdy fork to scrape at the ice, creating a fluffy mound of ice crystals. Spoon into chilled glasses. Make a tea out of hot water and the dried rosemary (just a 1/4 cup). Whip the whipping cream, adding sugar to taste. Blend in the rosemary water, and whip until it holds stiff peaks. Spoon on top of granita. (Full disclosure: The rosemary whipped cream was Ben’s idea.)

Got any other granita ideas? Let us know.

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6 Responses to Perfect Granita

  1. Mandy says:

    Yumm….I wish we had gotten a picture of us practically licking the dish in a granita free-for-all.

    Mandy

  2. Tart enough to make you smack the roof of your mouth with your tongue. Sweet enough to satisfy. Cool and refreshing….perfect for a hot summer evening. And who’s this Ben guy? His rosemary infused whipped cream idea is brilliant!

  3. This sounds so refreshing! beautiful pic!

  4. TasteStopping says:

    Maybe it’s a defect of my personality, but I think squash (and, okay, sweet potatoes) should go into lots of dishes, sweet and savory. Maybe not the centerpiece of the dish, but pureed and blended in, and well, mysterious. I’m not opposed to trying sweet potatoes in my homemade marshmallows, and expect the result would be a snack-size version of the favorite Thanksgiving dish. So, your butternut squash granita hits the mark for me on all counts. And it sounds delicious. All three recipes do!

    Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my new site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.

    Best,
    Casey
    Editor
    http://www.tastestopping.wordpress.com

  5. Pingback: The Great Blackberry Feast « 28 Pans

  6. Pingback: Summer soup and a Fall cocktail « 28 Pans

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