July 21, 2009
I know “granita” sounds like a type of dog that widowed Italian heiresses carry around in their Prada handbags, but it’s actually just flavored, shaved ice—think a subtler version of those snow cones you grew up loving in the summer.
And when you throw in some champagne, like I did, granita becomes a very grownup snow cone.
What’s so great about granita is that
a) there are about a million different flavor combinations you can make
b) it’s almost impossible to mess up
c) you can make granita ahead of time
d) no fancy equipment require; just a baking pan & a fork.
The basic formula is to combine fruit with other flavors and freeze the whole mixture in a flat pan, popping in the freezer every hour or so to scrape it the granita with a fork every thirty minutes or so, creating fluffy crystals of goodness.
While the recipe below is pretty tasty, feel free to use it as a baseline for your own inspired granita ideas—Smitten Kitchen recently posted a lemon granita, for example, and John over at The Alphabet Cook has a recipe for traditional espresso granita.
Sonya, our badass Blue Jean Gourmet photographer, is a big snow cone fan, so she deserves credit for inspiring this recipe. As soon as I get back to Houston, I’ll be making her my latest, Peach Margarita Granita, and I bet I can convince her to take a few pictures of the process so I don’t have to keep that recipe to myself.
Simple syrup, one of the ingredients called for here, is a great things to make and keep on standby in the refrigerator. Often used to sweeten cocktails and sauces, simple syrup gets its name because it’s terribly easy to make. Just bring equal parts sugar & water to a boil and then simmer for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has thickened a bit. Cool before using.
1 cup each:
champagne (if you’d like to make this non-alcoholic, use water or ginger ale)
½ – 2/3 cup simple syrup (adjust according to your palate & the sweetness of the fruit you are using)
a healthy squeeze of fresh lemon juice
pan: 13 x 9 metal or glass cake pan
Wash the berries, hulling & slicing the strawberries. Blend both berries together along with the simple syrup, & lemon juice until smooth. Strain the liquid to remove seeds—this should yield just over 2 cups of liquid.
Stir the champagne into the berry mixture and then pour into the pan. Stash in the freezer, being careful to lay the pan flat.
After thirty minutes, check the mixture. You should have a layer of ice crystals on top–using a fork, rake the outer edges in towards the center, then return the pan to the freezer. Continue to check every thirty minutes for a total of 2 hours.
Once the granita has finished freezing, you can store it in a plastic container in the fridge indefinitely. Serve it up in a pretty glass or bowl with a dollop of whipped cream, a garnish of fresh fruit, or all by itself.