Granita Siciliana is Sicily’s famous “icy” treat. It has a texture similar to an American snow-cone but that’s where the similarity ends. What a granita is NOT is crushed ice covered in an artificial syrup. A fruit flavored granita is flavored with the actual fruit. The ingredients can be the same as those found in a sorbet, the only difference is how they’re frozen. A sorbet is churned in an ice-cream maker to keep any large crystals from forming, conversely, you want ice crystals to form in a granita (which you get by “raking” with a fork) to give a “snow-like” fluffiness to the crystals. Sicilians love their gelato and granita (it’s the only dessert I ever saw my Uncle Lawrence eat). In fact, it’s the typical summertime breakfast in Sicily (yes, I said breakfast). The classic Sicilian flavors are coffee and almond and one or the other … or both are eaten together with a warm buttery brioscia (it’s similar to a French brioche). Take the bun, dip in granita, lick and bite, dip, lick, bite … repeat. Granita melts rather rapidly so this technique is an acquired skill (which Sicilian children learn at a very young age). There are also fresh fruit flavors according to the seasons and availability. Pesca (peach), fragola (strawberry) and limone (lemon) are very good. Granitas only need a few quality ingredients, a tray, a fork and a freezer … what are you waiting for?
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
Put a thin-sided 9×13-inch aluminum pan in the freezer.
In a small saucepan, stir together the water and sugar. On medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. (Sugar should be completely dissolved). Continue to cook for one minute.
Remove saucepan from heat, add lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature (at least an hour).
Remove the aluminum pan from the freezer, pour the mixture into the pan and carefully place back in the freezer for 45 minutes.
Take out the pan (Ice crystals will have formed around the edges and bottom of the pan). Using a spatula, stir the mixture to incorporate the ice, return to the freezer.
For the next 2 hours you will remove the pan from the freezer and “rake” the ice every 30 minutes (returning it back to the freezer each time).
Serve the Lemon Granita in small chilled bowls with a spoon (if you don’t have any brioscia).
If you don’t eat it all, the remainder will still be “snow-like” tomorrow.