If you’ve never made a granita, a frozen Italian dessert made from sugar, water and assorted flavors, trust us when we assure you that you’re missing out. Originally from the island of Sicily, granitas have a texture that’s grainier than sorbets and Italian ice, but finer than snow cones, and in restaurants, they’re often served as desserts or as palate cleansers in between courses. Some common flavors include citrus and other fruit, coffee and tea, or wines and liqueurs.
The greatest thing about making a granita is the fact that anyone can do it. No ice cream maker or popsicle molds? No problem—there’s no special equipment required. For foolproof step-by-step instructions on making your own at home, keep reading.
We asked Jennifer Farley, creator, recipe developer and food photographer of the blog Savory Simple, for her basic recipe. Follow these steps with your favorite ingredients to make the frozen treat your own.
First, gather all of your ingredients. For 2 cups of granita you’ll need 1 cup of filtered water, 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sugar and approximately 1/2 cup of additional flavoring ingredients such as juice, fruit puree, coffee, liquor, etc. These ingredient measurements can be adjusted to taste. If you use alcohol in your granita the final consistency will be less firm.
Next, make a simple syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and simmer on medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
Remove the pot from the heat and add zest or flavorings. At this point, add any solid flavoring agents such as zest, spices or fresh herbs (if using) and allow the flavors to steep for 30 minutes while the mixture cools. Strain any solids from the syrup and stir in the additional liquids.
Pour the mixture into a flat-bottomed pan or glass dish. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Stir the mixture very thoroughly with a fork and allow it to freeze for another 30 minutes.
Repeat this process every 30 minutes for 3 to 4 hours. Make sure to mix the granita well every time, scraping down the sides. The idea is to prevent ice crystals from forming so you wind up with a consistency similar to sorbet (if the mixture isn’t stirred thoroughly you might wind up with small blocks of ice). Three hours will give you a good granita, but four hours will guarantee the consistency is smooth. I recommend serving the dessert immediately, but it will hold for 24 hours.
Here are several fabulous granita recipes from Williams-Sonoma and Savory Simple:
|Meyer Lemon Mint Granita
This Meyer lemon granita is clean and refreshing. Meyer lemons have a slightly sweeter and less acidic flavor than regular lemons, with a hint of orange. The lemon and mint combination is this recipe is reminiscent of a mojito—if you’re feeling up for it, try adding a splash of rum.
|Earl Grey Granita with a Tangerine Twist
The hint of fresh juice in this refreshing granita highlights the citrusy notes of Earl Grey tea, which is flavored with the essential oil of bergamot orange peel. If you grow bergamot orange in the garden, use its juice and zest here in place of the tangerine.
You can use any type of grapefruit for this recipe, but pink grapefruits make the most beautiful granita. If you opt for the grenadine, it also heightens the granita’s color.
|Blackberry Granita & Cream Parfait
Berries are delicious in this recipe, where they are transformed into a granita and layered with sweetened whipped cream and yogurt.
|Mixed Melon Granita
To make a mixed melon version, puree a combination of cantaloupe and honeydew with simple syrup and lime juice.
Feeling up for a challenge? Try making granitas four ways.