June 21 marks the beginning of summer and the weather here in Nebraska is starting to get pretty toasty. And when you sleep in until 10:00, you tend to miss the chillier parts of the day.
Luckily, little smarty-pants Oliver Evans designed the first refrigeration system in 1805. It was then built by Jacob Perkins in 1834. The first ice cream parlor in America opened even earlier in 1776 in New York. The date sound familiar? That's because it's the same year the Declaration of Independence was signed. It's a good thing ice cream didn't make it down to Pennsylvania by then. History could have been changed forever.
Now that we have today's mini history lesson out of the way, on to the granita!
A granita is kind of like a hybrid of a slushy and sorbet. It's a frozen dessert usually flavored with different fruits. In our case, raspberry will be the star of the show. Raspberries are easier to find during the summer, but you still need 2 cups for this recipe so you might want to go with frozen berries. Every year, we package fresh picked raspberries and freeze them. That's what I used, and, once they're thawed, they work perfectly.
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice
Heavy cream(optional. But, come on! Who doesn't want whipped cream?)
Put your raspberries in a fine mesh strainer or sieve set over a larger bowl. Using a spoon, push the berries through the strainer. Some of the seeds will probably go through the strainer, but they are hardly noticeable in the end result. Keep pressing the raspberries until you've squished the living daylights out of them. Then you're probably good! You should have about 1 cup of raspberry puree. Then, in a saucepan, put the water and sugar over medium heat. Stir for about 3 minutes until all the sugar is dissolved. At this point, you could wait for the sugar syrup to cool off, but I don't have that kind of patience so I just kept going. Measure out 1/2 cup of your raspberry puree and add it to the syrup along with the lemon juice. Pour the mixture into a 13x9 pan. Next, open the freezer door and attempt to clear a flat spot for the pan. This was especially difficult in our freezer. I had to really work around all the frozen pizza and unmarked veggies(who knows what they are?) Then carefully carry the pan to the freezer without spilling half of it over the side. You don't want to clean that sticky goo off the floor later. Let the granita hang out in the freezer for about 2 hours. After that, use the tines of a fork the scrape the pan into a slushy type thing. It won't be completely frozen yet, so put it back in the freezer for another 2 hours. Repeat the scraping process so it looks like this.
Yum! You can serve it now if you want to. A little whipped cream is delightful. I always whip the cream with a tablespoon of powdered sugar on high until it's nice and stiff.
With a single fresh berry for garnish. Look. Taste. Sigh. : )
If you don't want to eat it right away, you can always stick it back in the freezer.
Just make sure you do the fork scrape thing before serving it each time.
And you will want to hurry up and eat it. You know, so it doesn't melt and everything.
This is a fabulous treat for summer. So refreshing and light.
And simple! Just perfect...
Happy summer solstice!