It’s hot, and icy-cold treats are calling. No-churn ice cream, popsicle, and even soft serve recipes are seemingly everywhere. But let me be a salmon swimming against the tide with another thought. An easy-to-make, perfect-for-summer thought.
Granita is crunchy, refreshing, frozen delicousness. It’s snow cones for adults. It’s New York City street ices—or Roman ones if you sway that way—plus homemade happy. The Mexican Chocolate Granita in these photos, for example. But perhaps best of all, with granita there’s no ice cream maker required.
Why? Because granita uses a freeze-and scrape method instead. In other words, ice cream is made using an ice cream maker’s dasher (the paddle/mixer thing) to stir the liquid ice cream base around as it freezes. Which prevents it from freezing as one large block and, instead, forms smaller ice crystals. That makes for smooth creaminess.
But granita is made by pouring the liquid base into a shallow pan, putting the pan in the freezer, and breaking it up every hour or so by scraping it with a fork. Which also prevents the liquid from freezing as one large block but results in larger ice crystals, shards really. Aka frozen, refreshing yumminess without an ice cream maker!
(As a side note, when I was working on The Clean Plates Cookbook, I discovered that even ice cream and sorbet can turn out pretty good using the granita freeze-and-scrape method. Not quite the same, but definitely not poison.)
Granita always makes me think of Nicole Plue, a super-star pastry chef I was lucky enough to work with for a time. For a particular occasion, she created an amazing dessert of Tahitian vanilla panna cotta topped with fruit punch granita. Talking about her inspiration, she said she liked to play with juxtaposition of tastes, textures, and temperatures. Hence the iciness of granita combined with the creaminess of panna cotta. Quite brilliant, really, both the combination and the thinking. And a lesson that I’ve drawn upon more than once.
But I digress.
Make some granita. Mexican Chocolate Granita, perhaps. Combine it with something creamy a la Nicole—or not. Either way, it’s icy, easy, and an ideal summer treat.
More frozen treats you might enjoy:
Icy-Cool Wine Slushes
Strawberry, Meyer Lemon, and Buttermilk Ice Cream
Cherry Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips
Sparkling Wine Floats with Apricot-Vanilla Sauce
PB&J Ice Cream Sandwiches
Frozen treat recipes I created for other people/websites:
Vietnamese Iced Coffee Pops
Cranberry and Vanilla Bean Sorbet
Coconut Sweetpotato Ice Cream
Sunset Sprinkle Shakes