As promised, here is the apple cider granita we had for dessert on Sunday.
A granita is a semi-frozen dessert. It’s Italian, made with sugar, water and pretty much any flavorings you can come up with. It can be made with the flavors of the seasons, which is why I make it year round. I love it in the summer made with fresh watermelon or limeade, in the spring with honey and lavender, in the fall with pumpkin and apple. It may sound strange in the winter but curling up under a blanket by the fire and enjoying some granita seems pretty decadent to me.
I have made this one a few times and I love it, it’s a crowd pleaser. It’s a really refreshing desert but it is a bit time consuming. Not time that you need to be working with it, the actual hands-on time is very minimal. There is a lot of wait time with this one. Don’t let it discourage you. I start it and I set the alarm on my stove to remind me to move to the next step. Plan on making it when you are home for the day just like with a roast or a chicken stock, except the end product isn’t a warm comfort food. Instead, it’s the perfect end to a comfort food meal.
For my apple cider granita start with 4 cups of cider, 2/3 cups of dark brown sugar, 10 whole cloves, 1 whole cinnamon stick, and 2 star anise pods. Put all of that into a pot on the stove and bring it just to a simmer. The sugar will be all melted at that point and you turn off the heat, cover it, and let it steep for 1-2 hours depending on how spiced you like it. I let it go for 2 hours.
Use a fine mesh strainer (to grab those tiny cloves) and an 8 inch metal pan. It is important that the pan you choose is metal, critical in the freezing process. Trust me, I have tried a glass one as well. Strain out the solids and the pan goes into the freezer for about an hour.
After about an hour the edges will begin to freeze, it should look similar to the photo below.
Using a whisk, thoroughly incorporate all of the frozen edges back into the mixture, sample photo below.
Back into the freezer for another hour. Don’t forget to set your timer, it’s easy to forget when you have a project that goes so long in between steps. After the hour is up your granita should look similar to this:
It becomes much more frozen throughout, very much like slush at this point. Give it another good whisking to break up the ice crystals.
Place it back into the freezer for at least 3-4 hours until completely frozen. I like to leave it in here overnight at this point to ensure I am not rushing the freezing process, because I am so anxious to dig in to this deliciousness.
The next morning I took out the pan and used a fork to scrape the ice, it should scrape very easily. You can at this point put the granita into serving dishes or into a sealed container in the freezer for later enjoyment. Enjoy!