When I was still a little-ish girl I somehow convinced my parents to buy me an ice cream maker. I was sure I’d use it, use it all the time, make so much ice cream, blah blah blah…

Well let’s all be glad that I hadn’t asked for a puppy, because I got bored of that ice cream maker pretty gosh-darn quick.

So, as a big-deal fancypants grown-up in possession of her own kitchen shelves to fill with nearly-useless gadgets, I know better than to pretend I need to make my own ice cream. And let’s be real: I also don’t need the danger of a whole batch of ice cream in my freezer, calling out to me and begging to be reunited with it’s long-lost loves (chocolate sauce and whipped cream).

That’s where granita comes in. It’s light, and cold, and pretty, and forgiving, and doesn’t require anything more special than a freezer and a fork. Have you ever made it?

Granita is in essence the original Italian ice. It began in southern Italy, specifically on the island of Sicily. It’s generally made of water, sugar, and something. That something could be coffee, or fruit, or nuts, or herbs.

The general recipe is this:

  1. Combine your ingredients. Make sure the liquid is warm enough to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Pour the mixture into a big pan or tray. Pour it shallow, to maximize the surface area exposed to the cold.
  3. Put the tray in the freezer.
  4. Every 45 minutes – 2 hours (recipes vary), give it a mix with a fork, to break up any ice crystals that have formed.
  5. When there is no more  liquid, fluff it one more time and then let it hang out in the freezer another 30-60 minutes.
  6. Spoon it into something pretty.
  7. Maybe top it with something tasty.
  8. Mangia.

Have I convinced you to go make some granita yet? If so, read on for some tasty recipes. If not, read on for some tasty recipes — I think you’ll change your mind.

A lovely piece on NPR complete with recipes that incorporate sangria, coffee, orange, and lavender

A savory cucumber granita from Bon Appetit, to liven up delicate seafood

White wine granita from Saveur

This strawberry granita from Simple Bites is modeled on the water ice made at the chain Rita’s

And last but not least, the NY Times has its own take on coffee granita