Do you have a routine that became a routine before you even realized it? Well, over the past few months, I have developed a habit of eating a bowl of ice cream while watching television. You and I both know this is a hard habit to break, but I think at least I found a healthier substitute.
The French call it granité. In Italy, it is known as granita siciliana, where it is eaten any time of day, even for breakfast with a brioche. The rest of us know it simply as granita, a frozen dessert made with fruit juice or purée, coffee, or wine that is sweetened with simple syrup. It has a grainy, yet delicate texture, similar to shaved ice, and bursts with intense flavor and melts as soon as it hits the tongue. It is often served as a light dessert, especially nice after a heavy meal, or as a palate cleanser between courses.
To make granita, all you need is a fork and a freezer-safe container. No special equipment such as an ice cream maker is needed. However, it does take a couple of hours to freeze and a tiny bit of work to scrape the mixture at regular intervals. As the granita mixture chills, it is scraped and stirred frequently to break up the ice crystals, creating the characteristic granular texture. A touch of alcohol prevents the granita from freezing into a solid block so the ice crystals stay light. You may substitute vodka or some left over sparkling wine, if you have it.
This Pink Grapefruit Granita is tart and ever so slightly sweet, with just the right touch of bitterness, for a well-rounded combination of flavors. The fruity and herbal notes of gin, added to keep the granita from freezing completely, complements the grapefruit beautifully. It is a light and refreshing treat that is fun to eat. Don’t let the beautiful pale pink cotton-candy hue fool you; this granita might look pretty and demure, but it packs a bold grapefruit flavor.
For a fun presentation, I served the granita in frozen grapefruit halves. Not only did it make a pretty presentation, it also kept the granita cold for a longer period. If you’d like to do this, be careful when juicing the grapefruits to keep the halves intact.
Pink Grapefruit Granita
Yields 1 quart
4 cups freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice, strained (from 4 to 5 grapefruits)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (use more or less depending on the natural sweetness of the grapefruit juice)
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons gin (vodka may be substituted)
1 teaspoon Angostura bitters
mint, for garnish
In a small nonreactive pan, make a simple syrup by heating 1/2 cup of grapefruit juice and sugar, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Combine the cooled syrup with the rest of the juice and add the salt, gin, and Angostura bitters. Transfer to a shallow pan with about 2-inch sides and freeze. (I divided the mixture between two round baking pans and it worked beautifully.) To form the granita, freeze the mixture for an hour and then scrape and stir with a fork, from the edges into the center, every 30 minutes for approximately 3 hours until frozen crystals have formed.
If at any time the granita freezes too hard, simply leave it out at room temperature for a few minutes until it softens enough to be stirred again with a fork. Then return it to the freezer. Serve granita in a chilled footed dessert dish, wine glass, or frozen grapefruit half garnished with a mint sprig.
Adapted from David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, 2007.
© Daisy’s World. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Daisy’s World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.