In this post, I mentioned strawberry granita as a way to use up your fresh strawberries in season. Today, I will wax poetic about granitas in general and how they are the perfect summer dessert.
What is a granita?
Granita is a frozen dessert, originally from Sicily, made by freezing liquid of your choice and fluffing the heck out of it as it is freezing. The end results falls somewhere between a sorbet, an Italian ice, and a snow cone. It’s easy to make, but easier if you’re planning to be within reach of your freezer for a couple hours.
How do you make it?
Reading through recipes online, you’ll find that everyone makes granita slightly differently. After you put your liquid of choice in the freezer, some recipes say to stir every 20 minutes, others let it freeze solid then put it in a blender or food processor to chop it up. Some recommend stirring with a whisk, others say a fork will do the job.
Here’s my method: Pour your liquid into a 9×13 baking pan (metal works best), and place the pan in the freezer. Let it freeze for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour. Every 15 minutes after that (or whenever you remember!), take a fork and drag the tines through your liquid, breaking down and mixing up the large frozen crystals. Your granita is ready to go when all the liquid is frozen, generally about 2-3 hours later. Note that this is not something you have to monitor closely. If you forget about the granita for an hour or even two, no problem. Just grab a fork and start scraping. It’ll be easier if you do it frequently, but I’ve let pans of granita freeze overnight by accident and I just have to work a bit harder in the morning with my fork.
What about the liquid?
You can make granita with store-bought juice, or you can take it a step further and make your own liquid. Store-bought juice makes granitas that are more watery tasting, but still delicious and awfully easy. Making your own liquid (sugar syrup combined with flavoring) allows you to create a more concentrated flavor.
I’ve made grapefruit granita, coffee granita, margarita granita, and lemon granita, just to name a few. I served the coffee granita with a scoop of unsweetened whipped cream, which was nice for a texture contrast. The margarita granita was an especially big hit at a recent Cinco de Mayo party.
Here are some of the recipes I’ve used (and loved):
- Grapefruit Granita from Williams-Sonoma
- Coffee Granita from Alton Brown
- Margarita Granita from Martha Stewart
- Gin and Tonic Granita from Leite’s Culinaria