What is a Granita?

     Refreshing in flavor and easy to make, granita (pronounced grah-NEE-tah) is popular throughout Italy and, now, here too!  These lovely ice treats are a mixture of water, sugar and a flavoring.
They are grainy in texture and are frozen in a pan in the freezer.   They can be made 2 different ways. 
    1.   If you are looking for a light flaky texture, you freeze the ices mixture in a pan and when just firm, you scrape ice crystals off from the top with a fork and scoop them into your serving cup, and top with your garnish or additional flavor.
    2.  The second option when making granita is to create coarse granular crystals or flakes of ice; in this way you are not going to create a light airy texture, but you will develop the characteristically larger, denser ice crystals as the mixture is stirred several times during freezing.
     I'll show you both ways:
  • Granita made the 1st way.

    The following recipes are made the 1st way, by freezing the flavored ice firm, then scraping:

  • Granita made the 2nd way.

LIMONCELLO GRANITA

Limoncello Granita

     This is one is my personal favorite and one of the most simple and the most refreshing of all the Granita recipes, easy to make, light, just a bit sweet, and it tastes like a lemon cloud.

1 1/2 cups Lemon Simple Syrup, recipe follows
Lemon Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cups water
1 lemon, zested and juiced
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, lemon zest, and lemon juice over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool, about 20 minutes.
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup limoncello liqueur
Pinch fine sea salt
Place the simple syrup, mascarpone cheese, limoncello, and salt in a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish. Freeze for at least 4 hours or until the mixture is firm.
Using the tines of a fork, scrape the mixture into small serving bowls or glasses. Serve immediately.
 

ESPRESSO GRANITA

Espresso Granita Parfait

     If you like the taste of Iced Coffe, you are going to love this one.  It needs just a bit of tending, but its worth it.
 
6 cups hot espresso
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 teaspoons confectioners' sugar
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated or shaved
Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish
     In a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish, carefully pour in hot espresso and whisk in granulated sugar until dissolved completely. Place dish in freezer and for the first 1 - 2 hours stir the mixture to be sure you have an even texture throughout.  Once it passes the slushy stage, let it freeze solid. The granita will need approximately five hours to completely freeze. 
     Once its done, use the tines of a fork, scrape the mixture into ice crystals and scoop into small serving bowls or glasses, top with your choice of garnishes - mint, lemon, cream. 
     Or, to make the parfaits in the photo, right before serving, make the whipped cream. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks. Add the vanilla extract and confectioners' sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks.
     Line up 12 glass Champagne flutes. Place 1 tablespoon of granita in the bottom of each glass. Using a different spoon, spread a layer of whipped cream. Continue layering the granita and whipped cream, ending with the whipped cream. Sprinkle chocolate over the top of each glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint. Serve immediately.

CANTALOUPE & MINT GRANITA

     This Granita, made with Cantaloupe and Mint is the perfect treat when you're having guests.  It needs no tending, and is ready whenever you are. Its surprising and light and the taste combination is luscious.
 
2 cups water
1 cup sugar, plus extra, as needed
1 1/4 cups fresh mint leaves, packed, divided
1 (2 1/2 to 3-pound) cantaloupe melon, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces to yield about 4 cups flesh
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 2 large limes)
 
     In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and 1 cup mint leaves over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool, about 20 minutes. Strain before using.
     In a blender, puree the cooled syrup, cantaloupe, and lime juice until smooth. Taste, and adjust the sweetness by blending in 1 extra tablespoon of sugar at a time. Add the remaining mint leaves and blend until finely chopped. Pour the mixture into a 9-by-13-by-2-inch glass baking dish and freeze until firm, at least 8 hours or overnight.
     Use the tines of a fork to scrape the granita into chilled bowls and serve

CRANBERRY GRANITA

    Like the Cantaloupe Granita above, here is another refreshing granita that takes only a little work with a big payoff:
2 cups water
5 1/2 ounces cranberries, approximately 1 1/2 cups, washed and sorted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon lime zest 
Place the water, cranberries and sugar into a small saucepan, set over medium-high heat and simmer until the berries begin to pop, approximately 7 minutes. Remove from the heat. Puree with a stick blender, blender or food processor, for 1 minute. Pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer directly into a metal 13 by 9-inch pan. Do not press on the skins. Simply allow the juice to drip through the strainer. Add the zest and stir to combine. Place in the freezer until set, at least 6 hours and up to overnight. Once frozen, scrape the mixture with a fork to create a shaved ice texture. Serve immediately

SPIKED PEACH GRANITA

How can you resist this one?
Ingredients:
4 cups water
3 cups peach slices (about 3 medium)
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 mint leaves
1 1/3 cups fresh lime juice 3/4 cup rum
Peach slices (optional)
Fresh mint sprigs (optional)
 Preparation:
1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 5 minutes. Cool, and discard mint.
2. Place half of peach mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed peach mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish. Combine remaining peach mixture, juice, and rum in blender; process until smooth. Add to baking dish.
3. Freeze 8 hours or until firm. Remove mixture from freezer; scrape entire mixture with a fork until fluffy. Serve immediately. Garnish with peach slices and mint sprigs, if desired.

BASIL & LIME GRANITA

     INGREDIENTS: 8 limes, juiced, 30 basil leaves, 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • In a pan, dissolve the sugar into 200ml (7fl oz) of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the basil leaves. Mix and leave to cool.
  • When it has cooled, remove the basil leaves and discard them. Add the lime juice and fleshy bits that gather around the juicer, and mix.
  • Follow the final step, as in the previous recipes

CRANBERRY GRANITA WITH VODKA

2 cups cranberry juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup vodka
6 fresh cranberries, for garnish
    Whisk the cranberry juice and sugar in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves. Pour the cranberry mixture into a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Cool completely. Whisk in the lime juice and vodka. Freeze until the granita becomes slushy, about 2 hours, Then stir, using fork, stir to blend. Continue freezing the granita until frozen, at least 5 hours or overnight.
     When ready to serve remove from the freezer for about 10 minutes, then scrape off the ice from the top of the granita with the tines of a large fork, and divide the granita among 6 dessert glasses. Garnish with fresh cranberries, if desired, and serve
 

COFFEE & CHOCOLATE GRANITA

     Then again, sometimes we just want something a little more substantial.  If so, then this is the Granita for you. 
 
2 cups hot espresso or very strong coffee
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
Bittersweet chocolate shavings
     Stir espresso, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Pour into a 9x9x2" metal baking pan. Freeze for 1 hour. Stir, mashing any frozen parts with the back of a fork. Cover; freeze until firm, about 2 hours. Using a fork, scrape granita vigorously to form icy flakes. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover tightly with foil; keep frozen. Give it a quick scrape before serving.
Beat cream and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a large bowl until peaks form. Divide granita among bowls or glasses. Top with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate shavings.

TIME INTENSIVE GRANITAS

     If you find yourself with some time on your hands and you like a more slushy dessert, we have those recipes for you too. The goal when making this type of granita is to create coarse granular crystals or flakes of ice.  This time, you are not trying to create a smooth airy mixture as in the recipes above. These develop the characteristically large ice crystals as the mixture is stirred several times during freezing.

Most granita recipes begin by simmering sugar and water in a saucepan to make a syrup. Once the syrup has cooled slightly, follow the directions in each recipe for adding fruit juices, pureed fruit, and other liquids. Then just transfer the mixture to a container and place in the freezer. When you see ice crystals beginning to form around the edges of the container, stir the mixture with a fork. Most granitas call for regular stirring at 30-minute intervals. Once you've made a basic granita, experiment with new flavors using the same basic recipe.

   Pour the mixture into the pan and place in the freezer. Every 30 minutes, using a fork, stir the granita, scraping it off the bottom and sides of the pan. Break up the frozen parts near the edges into smaller chunks and rake them toward the center. Continue to freeze and break up ice crystals until completely frozen, about 3 hours. 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.

 
Check your granita mixture 20-30 minutes before serving to make sure that you can scoop the surface with a spoon. If it is too firm, let it stand at room
temperature until serving time.

ASSORTED SLUSHY GRANITAS

     This is a sample of the Granitas that require stirring and tending.  We have flavors like: Espresso Granita, Strawberry Granita, Lemon Granita, Raspberry Granita, Peach Granita, Chocolate Granita, Mojito Granita, Watermelon Granita with Vodka and more. They are also light and refreshing, but you do need to be near the freezer every half hour or so to get this particular consistency.  When you do, and you have the right combinations, you can't help but enjoy the fruits of your labor! 

  • WATERMELON GRANITA

  • PEACH GRANITA

  • MOJITO GRANITA

WATERMELON GRANITA W/ VODKA
1 wedge of watermelon, about 5 pounds
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 cup vodka
Remove the rind from the watermelon; cut the flesh into cubes
Place the watermelon cubes in a food processor (you will need to do this in batches). Puree until smooth.
Transfer the pureed watermelon to a sieve placed over a large bowl and press the mixture with a wooden spoon until only the pulp remains in the sieve.
Set the watermelon liquid aside; discard the pulp.
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water.
Bring to a simmer or until the sugar dissolves, 1-2 minutes; allow to cool.
Add the sugar syrup to the watermelon liquid along with the lime juice and vodka. Stir to combine.
Transfer the mixture to a shallow pan. Freeze according to the directions for freezing granita above.
 
STRAWBERRY GRANITA
1-1/2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
2 pints very ripe strawberries
Optional: Sweetened whipped cream
Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar, then cool to room temperature.
Set a few of the strawberries aside for a garnish later.
Hull and puree the remaining strawberries in a food processor, then stir the puree into the cooled syrup.
Transfer the mixture to a shallow pan and place in the freezer then freeze according to the instructions for freezing granita above.
When ready to serve, spoon the granita into chilled glasses and top with a spoonful of whipped cream.
Garnish with a whole strawberry.
 
LEMON GRANITA
4-5 large lemons
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
Cut long strips of lemon rind from 2 of the lemons, making sure to not include any of the white pith. Cut all the lemons in half and squeeze them to get 1 cup of juice.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, add the lemon juice, and stir to dissolve the sugar, then add the lemon strips and allow to cool to room temperature.
When cool, strain through a fine-mesh strainer.
Transfer the mixture to a shallow pan and place in the freezer, the freeze according to the instructions for freezing granita above. To serve, spoon into chilled glasses.
 
RASPBERRY GRANITA
4 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
If you are using fresh raspberries, set a few aside for a garnish.
Puree the remaining raspberries in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Press the mixture through a mesh strainer with a rubber spatula and discard the seeds.
Transfer the pureed raspberries to a shallow pan, stir in the water and sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, then freeze according to the instructions for freezing granita above.
To serve, spoon into chilled dessert glasses and garnish with remaining raspberries
 
PEACH GRANITA
6 large peaches (about 2 pounds)
1-1/3 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
Peel the peaches, cut in half, and remove the pits. Cut the peaches into small chunks and place the peaches and 1 cup of the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peaches are soft, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and allow to cool to room temperature when cool, puree the peaches in a blender with the remaining 1/3 cup of water until smooth.
Transfer the mixture to a shallow pan.
Freeze according to the instructions for freezing granita above.
Serving Idea: Peach granita is nice served over vanilla ice cream.
 
CHOCOLATE GRANITA
4 cups water
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Combine the water, sugar, salt, and cocoa powder in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Bring to a boil and cook for 15 seconds, stirring occasionally.
Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate. Stir the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted. Stir in the vanilla. Transfer the mixture to a shallow pan.
Freeze according to the instructions for freezing granita above.
 
MOJITO GRANITA (makes about 1 qt)
2-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
Grated zest of 2 limes
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 6 limes)
3 tablespoons white rum
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Add the lime zest.
Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the sugar is dissolved.
Reserve 6 of the mint leaves; add the remaining to the saucepan and remove from heat.
Cover the saucepan and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Uncover the saucepan and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
Strain the mixture into a shallow pan, pressing on the leaves to extract all the flavor.
Discard the mint leaves.
Stir in the lime juice and rum.
Finely chop the 6 reserved mint leaves and stir them into the mixture.
Freeze according to the instructions for freezing granita above.
To serve:
Drizzle a bit of extra rum over each serving, if desired