like this tangerine variety, is an Italian ice that
melts the minute it hits your tongue - and it easy to
(pronounced grah-NEE-tah) is the name for an Italian ice of
rough, jagged crystals. It melts the minute it hits your
tongue, sending a shiver of cold straight down the throat.
The classic flavors are lemon and coffee, but granita comes
in other flavors too, including one made with jasmine. The
ultimate, though, has to be the almond granita made from an
infusion of crushed almonds in water served with warm
brioche for breakfast at Caffe Sicilia in Noto, Sicily.
fact, the inspiration for Sicily’s slushy ice comes from
the Arabs who once ruled the island. And over the centuries,
granita has become a tradition over much of southern Italy.
In 19th century Naples, colorful carts festooned with lemons
used to dispense granita di limone at the height of summer.
mystery is why granita rarely shows up on Italian menus in
Los Angeles, edged out by gelato and sorbetto made in gelato
machines that do all the work.
the home cook, the beauty of granita is that it doesn’t
require a fancy ice cream or gelato machine. All you need is
a shallow metal or glass baking pan and a fork. Really.
some spectacular fruit.
the ice involves no dairy, it’s a purist’s dessert,
highlighting sweet, juicy tangerines or fragrant lemons.
Provence, a cook friend once looked out the window of the
house we were renting and spied a cherry tree loaded with
fruit. Soon we were gleefully squeezing cherries with our
hands to get the crimson juice. A couple of hours later, we
were spooning jaggedy ice crystals of cherry granita into
our mouths in the dark.
make granita, start with 3 or 4 cups of freshly squeezed
fruit juice — cherry, lemon (cut with water), tangerine,
blood orange, grape, even pureed melon or peaches. You can,
of course, make it with juice you buy, but the result won’t
taste as vibrant.
sugar (preferably fine baker’s sugar) or simple syrup to
taste, just sweeter than you’d like to drink it. (After
freezing, the granita will taste much less sweet.) How big
the crystals get depends on how much sugar is in the mix.
Less sugar, bigger ice crystals.
the mixture into a shallow baking pan. Ideally, the liquid
shouldn’t be much more than an inch deep or it will take a
long time to form the ice crystals.
the pan in the freezer. After about an hour, check to see if
ice has started to form on top and around the edges. If not,
wait some more. Once you can see the ice, take that fork and
scrape the ice crystals into the middle. Come back a
half-hour later, scrape again. Repeat several times until
all the liquid is frozen.
before serving, fluff up the granita with the fork and serve
it heaped into footed ice cream bowls or wine glasses. (If
the granita is too firm, let the container stand out at room
temperature for a few minutes before serving.)
that barbecue season is here in earnest, served after
grilled chops and sausages, or carne asada with all the
fixings, a tangerine granita is refreshing and light. Serve
it with cookies or even a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream,
the way chef Jennifer Naylor used to do at Wolfgang Puck’s
Malibu restaurant, Granita.
(OR OTHER CITRUS) GRANITA
minutes, plus freezing time. Serves four to six
cups tangerine and blood orange juice (or other citrus
juice), pulp strained
2 to 4
tablespoons superfine sugar, or to taste
the juice and 2 tablespoons sugar, whisking until the sugar
is dissolved. Taste and add additional sugar as desired; the
mixture should be sweet (the sweetness will fade as the
granita freezes). Pour into a shallow baking dish so the
mixture comes up the sides approximately 1 inch. Freeze,
checking occasionally to see when ice begins to form on the
top and sides, after an hour or so, and begin scraping the
ice crystals into the center of the pan with a fork.
Continue to freeze, scraping occasionally, until there is no
more liquid in the pan. Just before serving, fluff the
crystals with a fork. Serve heaped into ice cream bowls or
If you are making a lemon granita, cut the lemon juice with
water just as you would for lemonade.