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Mother's Day Mocktail & Granita

Posted Aug 24 2008 3:35pm
I spent the better part of Mother’s Day weekend in bed with a nasty virus, alternating between fever and chills. Whee!

But there were compensations: lolling in bed, freedom from housework, reading two books and a pile of magazines, and a husband waiting on me with tea, water, and popsicles. Who knew the flu could be so giving?

On Sunday morning, Kevin made a Mother’s Day morning concoction worth sharing here. Knowing my penchant for pink and green, he devised a mocktail made from 1 part Reed’s Ginger Brew (but you could use any ginger ale), 1 part guava nectar, and a few muddled lime pieces (I let him know he can make this for me—not to mention be my manservant—anytime).

Two glasses of the bubbly brew propelled me towards wellness, so much so that I was able to get up, bathe and dress (a relief to everyone). And because I had slurped and dribbled my way through two boxes of strawberry popsicles in 48 hours, I decided to cobble some fruit and pantry basics into an icy substitute: granita.

Before you begin second guessing the effect fever played in this choice, consider this: granita is little more than shaved ice. If you can open the freezer door and manipulate a dinner fork, granita is within your grasp. What makes it special, beyond my beloved popsicles, is its intense taste, made from fruit purees, coffee, wine, chocolate, and juices: bracing flavor along with the frost.

The technique I use is one I picked up from an article several years ago: make a sweetened sweet liquid base, freeze and stir, then shave and serve. A bold granita demands a bold base. For coffee base, use a strong coffee, or better yet, espresso, For chocolate, add some of that same espresso for a bit of acidity. Similarly, fresh-fruit granitas taste best with a bit of extra acid, such as citrus juice or vinegar.

Every base will need a little sugar to sweeten it and to create the perfect slushy texture. Since sweetness is diminished by cold, make the fruit purée or liquid sweeter than you want the final product to be. This only takes a small amount of trial and error; and the “mistakes” are still delicious and refreshing. A Santé!

Strawberry-Balsamic Granita

1/2 cup boiling water

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 cups sliced hulled strawberries

Stir the boiling water, sugar, vinegar, and lemon juice in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Blend the strawberries in processor or blender until smooth. Add sugar syrup and blend until combined.

Pour mixture into 8x8x2-inch baking pan. Freeze until icy around edges, about 1 hour. Using fork, stir icy portions into middle of pan. Freeze until mixture is frozen, stirring edges into center every 20 to 30 minutes, about 2 hours. Using fork, scrape granita into flaky crystals. Cover tightly and freeze. Scrape granita into bowls. That’s it! Makes about 4 servings.

Nutrition per Serving (1/4 of the granita): Calories 128; Fat 0.5g (poly 0.2g, mono 0.1g, sat 0.0g); Protein 0.9g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 34.2g; Sodium 1mg)

(Note: I did the nutrition analysis using Diet Analysis Plus 7.0.1)

Two other variations I’ve tried and highly recommend:

Mango-Lime Granita: Use 3 cups chopped fresh (or frozen, thawed) mango in place of the strawberries and 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice in place of the balsamic vinegar and lemon juice (also delicious with a few tablespoons chopped fresh mint added in)..

Blueberry-Lemon: Use 3 cups fresh (or frozen, thawed) blueberries in place of the strawberries and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (and no balsamic vinegar).
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