A granita, also known as granita siciliana, is a frozen dessert made from sugar, water and assorted flavors. Originally from Sicily, it’s very similar in texture to sorbet or Italian ice. In restaurants, granitas are often served as a palate cleanser between courses; they can also make wonderful desserts. Some common granita flavors are citrus, fruit, coffee and tea.
For 2 cups of granita you’ll need 1 cup of filtered water, 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sugar and approximately 1/2 cup of additional flavoring ingredients such as juice, fruit puree, coffee, liquor, etc. These ingredient measurements can be adjusted to taste. If you use alcohol in your granita the final consistency will be less firm.
Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and simmer on medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
Remove the pot from the heat. Add any solid flavoring agents such as zest, spices or fresh herbs (if using) and allow the flavors to steep for 30 minutes while the mixture cools. Strain any solids from the syrup and stir in the additional liquids.
Stir the mixture very thoroughly with a fork and allow it to freeze for another 30 minutes.
Repeat this process every 30 minutes for 3 to 4 hours. Make sure to mix the granita well every time, scraping down the sides. The idea is to prevent ice crystals from forming so you wind up with a consistency similar to sorbet. If the mixture isn’t stirred thoroughly you might wind up with small blocks of ice, which aren’t nearly as fun to eat. Three hours will give you a good granita, but four hours will guarantee the consistency is smooth. I recommend serving the granita immediately, but it will hold for 24 hours.