There are very few desserts one could make that are simpler than a delicious granita – nice and icy cold and fluffed with (simply) a fork from the freezer. Though the holidays are a few weeks past at the time I write this post, I am reminded by this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings selection – Lemon Lime Champagne Granita – of the several years when I, as a child, yearned for Santa to put that Snoopy Snow-cone Machine under the tree for me. It seemed all of my friends had one. I adored the Peanuts characters, and what kid doesn’t like a good, fruity dessert reminiscent of those sickly-sweet Slurpees you could buy at K-Mart – which inevitably provided you with killer brain freeze – right?
Alas, Santa never came through with the Snow-cone Machine (for reasons unknown – perhaps a fear of the small, sharp rotating blades inside? Who knows!). As an adult, however, I can delight in the fact that making my own tasty, refreshing icy treat is as simple as combining a few tasty ingredients together with a simple syrup, tossing it in a metal pan, freezing it, and occasionally stirring it with a fork to yield those beautiful, flavorful crystals of ice. I’m pretty sure a recipe such as this one would be ultimately better than anything a plastic Snoopy doghouse could churn up too!
I’m a touch behind schedule on posting my entry for Baked Sunday Mornings; this granita was highlighted by my fellow BSM bloggers last week. Time got past me, however, as I opened a new show this week, and with wrapping up the holidays, things were just crazy. That bottle of Korbel champagne we reserved for cracking open on New Year’s Eve remained nice and chilled – and unopened – past midnight January 1st. We were simply too tired to stay up too much later and indulge in some bubbly. It’s called getting OLD, folks. In making this delicious granita, I discovered that the delay in popping the cork was well worth it. Not being a huge champagne fan myself – I reserve it strictly for special occasions and can usually only tolerate a few sips – I was intrigued to see how Baked incorporated it into this citrusy granita… Not to mention, it provided the perfect indulgent but light dessert for watching the Golden Globe Awards!
In the past, my favorite granita to make has been espresso granita (Bon Appetit magazine has a fantastic recipe). Topped with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and chocolate shavings, it’s a wonderful summertime treat reminiscent of iced coffee, and the textural contrast on the tongue of icy coffee and luscious whipped cream is amazing. Baked’s granita incorporates the tangy flavors of lemon and lime with the effervescent flavor of champagne and clean, crisp mint. It’s an irresistible combination, and again – it’s so simple to put together.
First, a simple syrup of equal parts water and sugar are heated together until the sugar dissolves; set this aside to cool. Combine your champagne, a few leaves of fresh mint (if desired), freshly grated lemon zest (from two lemons) and lime zest (one lime), and the juice from the lemons and the lime. When cooled, stir in the simple syrup, and pour the entire mixture into a metal pan. Pop the pan into the freezer, allowing for plenty of time for freezing. The freezing of the granita is probably the most difficult part of making it – you will be impatient to give it a try! Every hour, use a fork to stir and break up the granita as it forms into ice, ‘fluffing’ it gently. (I’d say a few cursory tastes are allowed as you go…) As the granita firms up, you will get larger chunks of ice – carefully break these up and continue to fluff the granita until it forms a nice, almost slushy (but firmer) mixture. Voila! You have your granita. Discard the mint leaves, and serve in a pretty dessert glass – with a fresh sprig of mint on top of each mound of granita. Easy, right? And very elegant.
Baked makes a very important note that you shouldn’t feel that you need to use an especially expensive champagne for this granita – which is very true. A nice prosecco may even do the trick. I would suggest that, with the tart citrus and sweetness from the sugar in the syrup, you use a drier champagne (something with more ‘brut’).
The taste of this granita really surprised me. It’s pretty amazing. The ice bursts with the cheerful lemon, lime, and mint flavors, and while one might think the lemon and lime zests would be off-putting, they actually provide a nice textural contrast (somewhat chewy) which isn’t disturbing in the least. The champagne is subtle, but it’s there – and it rounds out the overall flavor profile beautifully. I had a thought that this might be an excellent palate cleanser between meal courses – it’s so light and refreshing. I would say this Lemon Lime Champagne Granita definitely takes home the Golden Globe Award for a truly outstanding, easy dessert to toss together!
… and be sure to follow the Baked Sunday Mornings ‘Leave Your Links’ page to see how my fellow bakers fared!
A Happy New Year to all! Be sure to visit Neufangled Desserts again next week when I make Baked’s Chocolate Whiskey Tart! Can’t wait!