Like many granitas, this isn't so much a recipe as a guideline. Herbs and chiles vary in strength, so your cooking time and inclusion of sugar, salt, and lime juice may vary. Just don't cook the base too long—"cooked" mint flavors aren't very fun—and add your sweetener and seasonings a little at a time until you've reached your desired flavor. The base should taste a little stronger than you'd like the finished product, as cold dials down flavors.
If you're feeling daring, a tablespoon or two of tequila wouldn't be out of place here, not just for flavor but to give the granita a flakier, fluffier texture.
- Yield:serves 6 to 8 people (makes about 1 quart)
- Active time: 40 minutes
- Total time:6 to 8 hours
- 4 cups densely packed mint leaves, washed
- 2 jalapeno chiles, sliced, seeds removed
- 4 cups filtered or bottled water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Salt, to taste
- Lime juice, to taste
In a medium saucepan, combine mint leaves, jalapenos, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to below a simmer. Cook for about half an hour, adding small pinches of salt to taste, or until base tastes like bright mint. Do not cook base longer than 45 minutes, or "cooked" flavors will develop.
Remove from heat and strain into a wide, shallow container, pressing against mint with a spoon. Add lime juice, a few drops at a time, to taste, and any additional salt needed. Place container in freezer. After 1 to 1 1/2 hours, break up any large ice crystals with a fork, scraping along edges of container. Repeat scraping every 45 minutes, until no liquid remains and granita has frozen into flaky shards of ice.