Somewhere between an Italian ice and a sorbet lies a refreshing Sicilian dessert called granita. The perfect pick-me-up on a steamy summer day, a granita is a simple frozen blend of sugar, water and flavorings, usually fruit juice or coffee.
In Italy, outdoor cafes serve espresso granita with a spoonful of "panna" — whipped cream — on top. Fruit granitas made from watermelon, berries or citrus are a colorful, not-too-sweet snack.
The traditional preparation method calls for freezing the coffee or fruit mixture for an hour or so, raking it with a fork to create icy slivers and repeating the process. The food processor cuts that preparation time but requires attention. The finished granita should look like ice crystals, not a puree.
Spoon the granita into glass bowls or glasses — a martini glass makes a dramatic presentation — and garnish with a sprig of mint, a dusting of cinnamon or a sprinkle of raw sugar.
>>4 cups cubed seedless watermelon (about ¼ of a medium melon)
>>2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
>>Juice of half a lime
>>1 tablespoon grenadine, optional
Mint leaves for garnish
Put watermelon, sugar, lime juice and grenadine in the bowl of a food processor. Process until watermelon is pureed. Put a strainer over a bowl and spoon the watermelon puree into the strainer. Stir and press the puree against the strainer to separate any seeds. A bit of puree will remain in the strainer. Divide the watermelon "water" between two ice cube trays. Freeze until firm, about 2 hours.
Put the frozen watermelon cubes in a single layer into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a second or two at a time until cubes finely chopped and no large pieces remain. Spoon into bowls or glasses and garnish with mint. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
GRANITA DI CAFFE
>>2 cups strong brewed coffee or espresso
>>1/4 cup sugar
>>Whipped heavy cream
Stir sugar into hot coffee until sugar has dissolved. Pour coffee mixture into two ice cube trays. Freeze until firm, about 2 hours. Put frozen coffee cubes in a single layer into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until cubes are finely chopped and no large pieces remain. Spoon into glass bowls and top with a spoonful of whipped cream. Serves 4.