If you ever want to stand in front of your freezer with the door open without your mother yelling at you to close it, here’s your chance. Almond granita is a three ingredient, refreshing frozen summer treat. A second cousin to ice cream, granitas are like sorbet, but can be crunchy depending on how big the “grains” of ice are. However, they can also be creamy – without any cream – depending on if the grains are small and which ingredients you choose. In Sicily, Italy, granitas are even served for breakfast, often with a brioche bun. Breakfast of champions!
This recipe is all about simple and few ingredients, so that the flavor of almonds shines through. The principle ingredient is almond paste and there are many recipes for it as well as store bought versions that include what I consider “extraneous” ingredients such as egg whites, etc. In doing my research for this recipe, I also found that others included cream in their granitas. To me that’s a big “no.” Granita means grains of ice (water, not cream) and in traditional Italian granitas, whether it’s almond, pistachio, lemon or other fruits, mint or even coffee, they only use the purest form of the main flavor, plus sugar and water for the ice. Regardless, I hope you make this super simple recipe. If you don’t have plans to travel to southern Italy any time soon, this almond granita will get you half way there.
Arliano update (Aggiornamento Arliano):
After considering 7 kitchen design sources ranging from IKEA (right price, but we didn’t love the options or colors) to high-end design that would have bankrupted us, we’ve chosen and designed a new kitchen. While I’m excited about having an almost dream kitchen (I say “almost” because in my dreams I’d have a walk-in refrigerator, and that’s never going to happen!) this is going to be a lesson in patience. As I mentioned in a previous post, we’re pursuing some energy efficiency renovations that will be refunded by the government (the Eco bonus program). Prior to the kitchen, we must install a new heating system, which will require tearing up the floor in the kitchen and throughout the house. So, it will not likely be until January when we’ll see any signs of sparkling countertops.
In the meantime, I’ve been making zucchini every which way as it’s still in high production. The tomatoes are coming in quickly, but I’ve been having some blossom end rot issues, apparently due to inconsistent watering. I must remind myself that this is a learning year. Oh! And my beans never climbed the cute little teepees that I built for them – because they are bush beans, not climbing beans. Ha! Regardless, they are producing lots of beans and we enjoyed the simplest salad of quick boiled beans with tomatoes and slivered fresh red onions from the garden. In the coming weeks the rest of the onions will be ready to harvest and stored to “cure.”
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Granita alla Mandorla (Almond Granita)
- 100 grams (3/4 cup) whole blanched almonds (skins removed)
- 150 grams (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
- Water as needed
- 250 grams almond paste (using recipe above, or store bought)
- 2 cups + 2 tablespoons (500 ml) water
- Small pinch of cinnamon (optional)
- Make almond paste by putting sugar and blanched almonds into a food processor. Process until it becomes a smooth paste. If the almonds do not have enough oil on their own to form a paste, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until it becomes a paste. Be careful not to overdo it with the water. (TIP from friend Rosetta Costantino from her book, “Southern Italian Desserts”: You can save money by blanching your own almonds. Just put the almonds in boiling water for about 20 – 30 seconds, and then rinse them in cold water and the pinch off the skins.)
- For the granita, cut the almond paste into cubes and place them in a blender or food processor with the water and cinnamon, if using. Blend until completely smooth
- Pour the almond liquid into a large bowl or baking dish and place it in the freezer. Using a fork, scrape every 30 minutes for about 3 hours to break up ice crystals. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve. Alternatively, for a creamier texture, you can use an ice cream machine, if you have one, and then transfer the granita to the freezer and cover