Baked Sunday Mornings: Chilling with granita

Summer means iced tea — more than any drink — for me. I’ll take a tall glass of a plain black or green tea, but a good flavored iced tea — naturally flavored — like mango, mint, hibiscus or berry adds flavor and variety to the refreshment.

I also love granita. I’ve made a few (watermelon, lemon and cantaloupe). The granita method of freezing some delightful liquid concoction, freezing it and raking it with a fork to make it into a fluffy frozen dessert couldn’t make an iced treat easier. So I was excited to see the Iced Raspberry Tea Granita (you’ll find the recipe here) on the Baked Sunday Mornings recipe roster. Fusing my favorite summer beverage and a delightful frozen dessert sounded like a combo that could not miss.

The granita, from “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking,” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito (2008), begins with brewed raspberry tea. I chose one by Harney & Sons (I’ve lately been trying their teas and find the quality quite good).

I wanted the tea to really taste like raspberries, and it did…so many fruit-flavored things taste artificial. I chilled the tea until it was nice and cold before continuing on to the next steps.

Even more fruit flavor in the recipe was added through pureed (with sugar) strawberries and raspberries, along with a nice dose of lime zest.

Since I don’t usually use alcohol in recipes (unless absolutely necessary), I skipped the champagne called for in this one and substituted diet ginger ale. I figured it would add a similar bubbly component and the flavor would be subtle enough to blend in.

I also considered resisting the step of straining the mixture through a sieve, since I like textures in my granitas, sorbets and ice creams, but I went through with it anyway. Even though a bit of pulp was held back, the straining process still yielded a good amount of mixture to freeze.

The smallish square pan of fruity tea liquid, tightly covered with foil, actually fit reasonably well in my overcrowded freezer. Then the wait began. I decided to check every hour, but it was a good two hours before the granita began to solidify enough to look little more frozen and a little more like granita.

I raked the surface of the granita and kind of stirred it up/broke up large pieces with a fork every hour or two over a period of eight hours. This may sound tedious, but if you are home, anyway (which I was), it was no sweat, and even kind of fun

I’m never sure when I’m scraping granita that I’m doing it “finely” enough, my raking/hacking tends to turn up large frozen chunks like an icy, snowy well-traveled road, but this mixture was very amenable to being stirred up and smashed into a finer consistency.

The jeweled reddish-pink of this granita was one of the most beautiful of any frozen treat I’ve made. It tasted like frozen fresh fruit, enhanced with extra sweetness and the hit of lime that “made it,” bolstering it on the refreshment meter. Well-worth any wait!

You’ll find the recipe for Iced Raspberry Tea Granita here:

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