05 July 2012

Slushes for Grown Ups

from left to right: watermelon-moonshine, peach-bourbon,
 and grapefruit-vodka granitas

It's hot.  So unbelievably hot.  It has been over 100° six of the last seven days.  These are the perfect recipes for this weather and a nice relief from the unbearable heat.  My husband calls them Lush Slushes.  Technically these are granitas, not slushes, but his name for them makes me smile.

When I was a kid there was a snow cone stand about a mile from my house called Ethel's Sno-Cones.  I got to go every so often in the summertime, usually with my grandpa.  They had what felt like a million flavors in my mind.  I could never pick just one and always ended up with the rainbow cone -- a stripe of flavor to match each color of the rainbow.  Granita brings back those sweet memories of my grandpa and Ethel's Sno-Cones, but in a much more sophisticated flavor and color palette.

Granita is a frozen dessert made from sugar, water, and flavoring.  It originates from Sicily and is similar to sorbet or italian ice.  The texture can vary from very smooth to quite chunky.  The smooth varieties are made in ice cream or gelato machines.  The chunky variety is made with occasional stirring and it is then scraped to produce crystals.  The latter method is the one I prefer.  It's so simple and the texture is so light and airy, much like snow cones or shaved ice.  Granita takes some time to freeze but only requires about 15 minutes of actual on-hands labor.  Just go in the kitchen and stir it with a fork periodically.

You can make these kid-friendly as well.  Just leave out the alcohol or throw the liquid granita mixture on the stove for a few minutes to boil off some of the alcohol if you still want that flavor in there.  Just let the juice mixture cool before putting it in the freezer.

I had planned on the following three granita flavors:  Peach-Bourbon, Ruby Red Grapefruit-Vodka, and Watermelon-Tequila.  The first two went off without a hitch.  The third had a minor hiccup -- I didn't have any tequila.  I ended up using moonshine, the most southern substitute possible.  I gave my husband a bottle of Arkansas Lightning moonshine for Christmas.  It is made here in Little Rock by Rock Town Distillery.  The moonshine worked out well as a substitute, but I am leaving the tequila in the recipe and offering moonshine as the alternative.

Granita, a.k.a. Lush Slush, Three Ways
each recipe makes about 6 cups

Print me, Please!!!

Variation One


4 cups peach juice (I got a bottle at the local health food store)

2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp cane syrup (similar to molasses, but a little sweeter)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup bourbon

Variation Two

Ruby Red Grapefruit-Vodka

4 cups ruby red grapefruit juice

4 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup vodka

Variation Three

Watermelon-Tequila (or Moonshine)

4 cups watermelon juice (see note below)
3 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp cane syrup
1/4 cup tequila or 3 Tbsp moonshine

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; stir well to combine.  Pour juice mixture into a shallow 9x13 inch pan.  Carefully move pan to freezer.

After 1 hour, stir juice mixture with a fork.  Wait 45 minutes; stir mixture again with a fork, breaking up any solid chunks of ice with the tines of the fork.  Stir every 30 minutes for about 3 hours, or until mixture is consistent icy flakes.  Continue to break up any chunks of ice, using the tines of the fork as the scraper.

Transfer the mixture to a freezer-safe, airtight container.  The granita will keep in the freezer for 1-2 weeks.

Note:  To make the watermelon juice, use a seedless watermelon.  Cut the watermelon into chunks.  Puree the watermelon in a food processor or blender until fairly smooth.  Pour the puree through a fine mesh strainer to get watermelon juice.

fresh watermelon juice -- such a beautiful color

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