On Sunday night my ice cream maker decided that it had had enough, refusing to freeze another batch. Not exactly the best timing since I was about to embark upon a week of making gelato and sorbetto. The next morning I went out and purchased the ice cream making attachment for my KitchenAid, something I had been pining over ever since the weather warmed up. The trouble was that the bowl had to freeze for a minimum of 15 hours, another timing fail considering I had gelato to make ASAP. I spent a few minutes trying to figure out a way of expediting the freezing process and then decided to see if there were any recipes in The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto that were made without the use of an ice cream machine.
The solution to my temporary lack of an ice cream maker was simple and refreshing Blueberry Orange Basil Granita. The granita originated in Sicily and I've always thought of it as the Italian version of a slushie. I adapted this recipe from a basic template outlined in The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto. Blueberries and orange juice are pureed and then placed in a shallow pan in the freezer. The mixture is chilled for 3 to 4 hours, and stirred every half hour to break up the forming ice crystals. When finished the granita should be almost frozen and then scraped into light flakes of shaved ice.
Although I made this granita as in impromptu weeknight dessert, the breakfasty flavors of the blueberries and orange juice had me day dreaming about scooping myself a glass the next morning which isn't all that outlandish considering that many Sicilians start their day with a small cup of granita and a brioche. Not a bad way to start the day if you ask me.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto to give away this week.
- 2 cups blueberries
- 2 cups orange juice
- Basil, finely chopped, to taste
Place the blueberries and orange juice in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth, then pour into fine-mesh strainer placed over a bowl, pressing the solids to extract the blueberry puree. Discard the seeds and skins. Stir in the finely chopped basil.
Pour the mixture into a 9 by 12-inch baking dish and place in the freezer. Freeze for 3 to 4 hours, stirring with a fork every 30 minutes to break up the ice crystals, until the granita is almost completely frozen and the texture is like shaved ice. To serve, scrape the surface of the granita with a fork or ice cream scooper to create shaved crystals. Scoop into chilled glasses and serve immediately.