Instructions: A granita is simply flavored ice. Once it was commonly known as a palate cleanser, a small dish served between courses of a multicourse meal, whose purpose was to whet the appetite for the next course.
Today, it is most likely served as a dessert - ice cold, fat free and often low in calories.
Any fruit or berry that can be liquefied can be turned into a granita or granite (grah-nee-TAY in French).
Or start with your favorite juice - apple, papaya, guava, for example - and turn it into an ice. Unlike most other recipes, this one allows you to experiment. There really are no hard-and-fast rules for ingredients.
We have provided suggestions for three summer granitas made with melons common to Central California: cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew. But you can substitute your favorite berries or other fruit or juice.
As you will see from the directions, the ingredients very much depend on your taste and on the water content and sweetness of the particular fruit you are using.
If you are using berries, you may want to strain the seeds before freezing the juice.
If you are using a processed fruit juice, you may not need to add any sugar.
If your cantaloupe is extremely sweet, you may need to add just a little sugar.
If the fruit is more mellow, you may need more sugar.
Weve provided directions for making the granita in the freezer or in an ice cream maker.
The freezer version, which is stirred by hand, will give you a denser, grainy ice. The ice cream maker version, which is whipped, is a smoother, airier ice and will yield a larger number of servings. Serve the granita alone or with fruit or cookies.
Once youve made a simple granita, consider everything a potential ingredient, a cool variation on a summer theme:
Apple juice with Calvados, served with a cheese platter
White grape juice with cognac
Lemon juice with mint
Tropical juice blend with lightly toasted coconut
Raspberry with Chambord
Tips and terms
Disaster undone: If you use the freezer method and wait too long to break the first icy crust, the granita may freeze into a solid block of ice. Remove it from the freezer. Take an ice pick and carefully break up the ice. Transfer the mixture to a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and briefly process until the ice becomes large crystals.
Sweet test: Taste the granita before you freeze it. The taste will lose some of its kick and become a bit more bland once it is frozen. Adjust the sweetness accordingly before you put the mixture in the freezer.
Whats the difference?: What makes a granita different from a sorbet or sherbet? Granita has less sugar and larger ice crystals, a grainy texture, especially when made in the freezer and not in an ice cream machine.
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