Photo by Paul Goyette
Sorry for the big photo, but I'm rather fond of it. This is the dessert from the dinner party this weekend. It consisted of three cookies and a pomegrante ice. I'll post the recipes for the pignoli and the lemon slice next week, and point you to Fresh Approach's recipe for rosemary shortbread, which was my favorite of all three cookies. Today we'll focus on the pomegranate granita.
A granita is an icy treat made of fruit juice, water, and sugar. Popular granitas include coffee, orange, and grapefruit. Think of it as an ice cream with an emphasis on the ice. And no cream. Actually, think of granita as its own thing. It deserves that much respect, at least.
Pomegranates are a tree/shrub fruit native to ancient Persia and cultivated across the Mediterranean world. The part of the fruit that is edible are the tiny sacs of juice that surround each seed. The seeds cluster inside the fruit in a way that always reminds me of honeycombs.
You can use fruit juice of any sort to make this simple dessert ice, either fresh or pre-packaged. Pomegranate juice is perfect. The color is deep and rich and sweetening the tart juice into an ice makes for a perfect palate cleanser.
Of course you can combine pomegrante with other juices, adjust the sweetness level, or add herbs to infuse the granita. But sometimes the simplest recipe is best, so see this as a base to experiment with or a finished dessert in itself.
4 cups pomegrante juice
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
One large cookie sheet with 1/2" or higher lip - 13"x9" is ideal.
Space in the freezer to lay the sheet absolutely flat
Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Make sure the sugar has completely dissolved, then add the pomegranate juice and heat through, stirring to combine. Taste and add more sugar as you like, up to 1 cup, making sure the sugar completely dissolves into the liquid. If you add too much sugar, add more water or pomegranate juice until the sugar dissolves. I like my granitas tart, so I stuck with 1/2 cup of sugar.
Pour the mix into the cookie sheet and let it cool to room temperature. When it gets to room temperature, VERY CAREFULLY pick the tray up and place it in the freezer to cool. This is a great recipe to do with kids, but an adult should handle the transfer.
Every 20 minutes (or more frequently if you want finer ice), take a fork and scrape the pan to break up the pomegrante ice that forms into smaller and smaller chunks. You shouldn't let any large clumps of ice remain. Repeat until all the liquid has frozen and the ice is broken into very small crystals. Depending on your freezer, this may take an hour or two.
Empty the ice crystals into a storage container and freeze for at least another hour before serving.
When you do serve the granita, dish it into martini glasses or ramekins and serve immediately. The ice will want to melt quickly, but once you taste it, you won't want give it that chance.