There are two kinds of people in this world: those who own ice cream makers and those who do not. And sadly, though my dream machine has been languishing in a virtual shopping cart all summer long, I have yet to determine how I might squeeze another uni-tasker into our tiny kitchen. I gaze longingly at tables overflowing with fruit and yearn for sorbet as I pass through the farmers market, but I remain squarely in the have-not category.
Which was all rather depressing until yesterday when I discovered the slushy goodness of granita.
In a perfect homage to summer, Chris and I spent the day swimming and sunning ourselves at the beach, then passed the evening eating cold slices of watermelon and spitting seeds off our deck. Even with all that eating and spitting we still had quite a large hunk of watermelon sitting on the cutting board, so I flipped to the watermelon page in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything for inspiration. Bittman doesn’t exactly sing the praises of watermelon, but he does concede that it’s “not bad when made into Granita.”
And, as it turns out, making granita is about the easiest thing in the world, involving little more than sugar, fruit, and time. You combine puréed fruit with sugar or simple syrup, put it in the freezer, and wait. In fact, the waiting may be the hardest part — I saw Chris reach into the freezer with a spoon at least three times in as many hours to sample the granita as it froze.
Because, yes, it’s that good. Remember those paper cup Italian Ice things you’d get from the grocery when you were a kid? Granita is like that only several billion times better. It’s a burst of sweet, fruity ice crystals that melt away into a delicious slush as you wipe sweat from your brow and murmur, “Mmmmmmmmm.”
And Chris, who teases me for obsessing about food, must have been thinking about it all day because he called me a while ago to say, “Hey, don’t eat all of that slush before I get home.”
Like I would do such a thing.
adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything
1 c. sugar
½ c. water
2 c. chopped watermelon, seeds removed
juice and zest of half a lime
1) Make a simple syrup by bringing the water and sugar to a boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then set aside to cool.
2) Purée the watermelon in a blender or food processor. Add sugar syrup to taste (I used about ½ c.), then stir in the lime juice and zest.
3) Pour the mixture into a shallow glass or ceramic pan (the shallower the pan, the more quickly your granita will freeze). Freeze for 2-4 hours, stirring with a fork or whisk every 30 minutes to break up the crystals, until it reaches the desired consistency. I like it just beyond slushy, so that it remains icy in your dish and melts in your mouth.
You can vary this recipe endlessly by substituting 2 cups of juice, coffee, coconut milk, or puréed fruit for the watermelon and swapping out the lime for lemon (or eliminating it entirely).