When the mercury is rising outside, nothing is more refreshing than something cool and icy to enjoy on the back patio with family and friends. Granitas are the perfect treat.
What is a granita? It’s a semi-frozen, coarse icy dessert, a cross between a slushie and a snow cone, made from practically any fruit, sugar, and water. Originally from Sicily, granitas can be found almost everywhere in Italy where gelato is sold and they’re gaining in popularity in specialty coffee houses and restaurants as the ultimate palate cleanser. But you don’t have to travel across the ocean or shell out big bucks to indulge in this frozen delight. Because not only are granitas delicious, they are fairly simple to make and require no special equipment.
Watermelon Granita (Serves 8)
1/3 cup sugar
2 limes, juiced
8 cups seeded watermelon chunks
Directions: Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse on low until blended and smooth. Pour mixture into a 9″ x 13″ glass dish, cover with plastic wrap, and place in freezer for 3 hours. Remove from freezer and using a fork, scrape the top layer of the mixture, and around the sides, working toward the center, to loosen it from the pan. The mixture will not be completely frozen. Return to the freezer for another 2 hours (set a timer if you have to). Repeat the scraping process again, repeating the freeze-scrape process until all parts of the mixture are frozen. Once the entire batch is scraped into flaky crystals, you can serve, or store in the freezer in a tightly-sealed container for up to 1 day.
Spoon into ice cream dishes, martini glasses or other stemware, with a garnish of your choice, and eat with a spoon like an Italian ice.
With lots of ripe summer fruits available, you can enjoy different flavors at any time. (Note: If you choose to make a berry or other fruit granita, you will need to add 1 cup of water. Watermelon has a high water content so the water is omitted in this recipe). Experiment and have fun!
Coffee Granita (Serves 2-4)
1/3 cup strong brewed coffee or espresso
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
Whipped cream for garnish
Directions: Heat sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Stir in coffee or espresso. Remove from heat and cool. Pour into an 8″ x 8″ baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 1-2 hours. Using a fork, scape the mixture in the pan, pulling it away from the edges. Return container to the freezer for another hour, and scrape mixture again as ice crystals form. Repeat process until all liquid is frozen. Spoon granita into ice cream dishes or glass stemware and top with whipped cream.