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Refreshing Granitas

No special equipment needed—just stir and scrape to make these easy, icy fruit desserts

by Nicole Plue

fromFine Cooking
Issue 59

Simply put, a granita is shaved ice. The name comes from the Italian word for “grainy,” because, unlike sorbets, granitas are supposed to be coarse, crunchy, and slushy—not smooth. But granitas are more than just shaved ice; they’re a beautiful, easy way to get a bracing taste of fresh fruit. The technique I use couldn’t be easier: make a sweetened fruit purée (or use a flavorful liquid, like wine), freeze and stir, then shave and serve.

The ideal granita has a clean, intense taste, so you need to start with a fla­vor­ful base. For fresh-fruit granitas, use the ripest produce you can find. And since almost all fruits taste better with a bit of citrus, I always add a splash of lemon, lime, or orange juice. I sometimes use other acids, like balsamic vinegar, to heighten flavor.

Every base will need a little sugar to sweeten it and to create the perfect slushy texture. Since sweetness is diminished by cold, make the fruit purée or liquid sweeter than you want the final product to be. But be careful to strike the right balance: adding too much sugar will prevent the base from freezing properly.

Make these granitas a day ahead to allow for the freezing process. Then serve them as a light ending to a summer meal—brunch, lunch, or dinner—or as a cooling after­noon treat.

Photo: Scott Phillips

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