When the intense summer heat hits, one of my favorite desserts to make is frosty granita, a glittering, icy, slushy frozen Italian treat that makes the hottest day feel as if a cool ocean breeze is suddenly blowing across your face. During what I call my ‘Sicily’ years, we would spend long, lazy afternoons tucked under a beach ombrellone at the spiaggia. When the sun got too hot, we would head up and stand in line for a frosty cup of mouth-puckering lemony granita – those first crystals of ice slowly melting, instantly giving you brain freeze but making you feel oh so refreshed and ready for another bake in the intense Sicilian sun.
One of the best things about granita is that it is seriously super simple to make – sugar, water (ok, I subbed vino on this one – think adult sno-cone) and assorted flavors from fresh fruit to espresso. And no special equipment needed for this refreshing taste of heaven. The only special talent required is to occasionally stir the ice crystals in the pan in the freezer – rather refreshing to stick your head in the freezer on a hot summer’s day in of itself.
For this version, I used sweet, juicy fresh peaches which are in season right now (bought myself a few baskets of fresh picked ones from our local farm market @manofffarmmarket) and subbed out the water for vino for an adult version. At our local wine store, I spied a beautiful bottle of Rosata wine from a very familiar and one of my fave producers from Montalcino – Il Poggione. Bingo!
You very simply dissolve the sugar in the wine over low heat for a few minutes. Allow it to cool and toss in the blender with the peaches and some lemon juice. That is it! Pour into a pan and then (and this step is important) as the ice crystals start to form, you stir and scrape it around to break up the crystals into a glittering, icy mass. (Hint: if you space and forget to stir, just let it sit out a bit to melt, stir and continue on!)
I make this often in summer – so in case you prefer a non-vino version, try this Peach-Strawberry version or this one – oops no vino but subbed vodka in this Watermelon Vodka version. So if the summer heat gets you down, give a frosty granita a try and summer on!
Buon estate, tutti!
A super simple frosty Italian treat that makes you feel like a kid again!
- 1 cup dry wine, white or rose
- 1/3 cup sugar
- About 2 pounds of ripe peaches (I used 6 peaches)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Pinch of salt
Stir together the wine and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook just until the sugar melts, 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Pit and cut up the peaches into large chunks (keep the skin on) and put in a blender. Add in the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Blend together. Add in the cooled wine/sugar mixture and blend again. Pour into a shallow baking tray and carefully place in the freezer.
Let it alone for about an hour. Ice crystals should be starting to form. Scrape the granita with a fork to create pale pink shards. Keep scraping every half hour or so, until the granita is completely frozen and you have light, fluffy crystals. (Note: Don’t panic if you forget to scrape! Just allow the granita to thaw slightly and scrape away – back in business!) Serve in your favorite glass or bowl!