The Secret Ingredient (Pastis): Pastis and Mint Granita

"This granita tastes more like fennel than fruit."

[Photographs: Kerry Saretsky]

I make granitas constantly. For one, you don't need an ice cream maker, which I still don't have. And two, the snowflake texture and melt-in-your-mouth sweet crystals are like a grown-up snow cone and slushy, all combined in one elegant champagne saucer.

This Pastis and Mint Granita is intensely fresh, full of anise and fresh green spearmint—a strong departure from the sweet lemon and strawberry varieties that are more popular. This granita tastes more like fennel than fruit. But food legend in my family has always held that anise, though often sipped as an aperitif, is really a digestive aid—like the little fennel-seed cookies whose crumbs I always leave scattered on the paper-covered tables of generous Italian restaurants.

So here, I serve Pastis as a small and spry dessert, a digestif mixed with a bit of sugar to help the medicine go down. And because of the alcohol, the granita doesn't freeze as solid as traditional fruit granitas, and so is much less demanding of your attention.

But a word to the wise: Unlike the other Pastis recipes in which the anise liqueur really was a secret ingredient, the Pastis is very pronounced here. If you don't like Pastis, you won't like this granita. You could substitute with limoncello, Campari, or creme de cassis for less strident varieties.

About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way. She also writes the French in a Flash series for Serious Eats.

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The Secret Ingredient (Pastis): Pastis and Mint Granita

About This Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Pastis
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 stems mint, leaves finely chopped

Procedures

  1. 1

    In a saucepan, bring the water, sugar, and Pastis to a simmer and bubble just until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Allow to come to room temperature.

  2. 2

    Pour the cooled mixture in a square glass baking dish, and mix in the chopped mint. Freeze for 4 hours, scraping occasionally with a fork to break up the ice.

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