I often hear people lament their inability to make frozen desserts for lack of equipment. And I get it—ice cream makers are bulky and expensive enough to be something of an investment, and there's lots of great ice cream and sorbet out there already. But nothing's quite as satisfying as pulling dessert out of the freezer at the end of a long meal—nodding, yes, it is homemade.
For these occasions, we have granita, one of the easiest and most elegant desserts ever made. The ingredients couldn't be simpler, the technique no more elementary. And they wake up the palate like nothing else. No ice cream maker required.
This granita is a dessert and after-dinner drink in one: icy and refreshing before melting into a subtly spiced wine syrup. Depending on your crowd, you can call it granita di prosecco con limone e zenzero or a boozy lemon Sno-Cone. Or just call it the perfect dessert, one that's full of flavor but won't weigh you down.
The alcohol in sparkling wine creates large, flat flakes of ice, like fine sea salt crystals blown up a hundred times. I used Santa Margherita prosecco for a clean, crisp flavor with more than a hint of apple. Lemon and ginger were no-brainer accompaniments that draw the best qualities out of the wine.
Full disclosure: The prosecco used for this recipe came from a free sample.
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons grated ginger, with its juice
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 1/2 cups prosecco (recommended: Santa Margherita)
- Zest of one lemon
- 5 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
In a small saucepan, heat water, sugar, ginger, and salt on low heat for five minutes, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and pour into a wide, flat container like a take-out container or a baking dish. Stir in prosecco, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
Transfer container to a flat surface in the freezer. After 45 minutes, run a fork along sides of container to break up any large chunks of ice. Check on granita several times, every half-hour to an hour, gently breaking up chunks of ice with fork. Granita is ready when ice is full of large, irregular flakes with little to no liquid remaining. For best flavor and texture, serve within two days of making.
If you can't stir the granita every half hour, let it freeze into a block of ice overnight. The next day, scrape it into flakes with a large fork. The texture won't be quite as light, but it'll come close.