Granita, which means grainy coarse ice, is a dessert from Sicily. Since my family hails form Florence and Lucca in the North, I didn't exactly grow up eating granita as a dessert. In fact we didn't eat a lot of foods from Sicily in my family . Part of the reason was a long drawn out and obscure feud that started back at the turn of the last century when a great great aunt decided to marry a Sicilian. You thought Romeo and Juliet was a mess???? What started in 1912 took me until 2001 to resolve when I got all the principals to the table again thanks to Ancestry.com.
As it turns out my half Sicilian cousins had grown up mere blocks from me and we'd lived our whole lives not knowing of each others existence. Denials of a feud from our end didn't work either when opened pieces of mail with "NO SUCH PERSON EXISTS HERE! STOP BOTHERING ME" scrawled across the envelops were produced. One memorable phrase sticks in my head.
"Don't Forget Marie, every dog will have his day!"
Okay then. The process of granita-making is straight forward and simple in the extreme, No machine is needed, this is not high tech. Remember, this is a dessert that was probably served to Caesar. Mix, freeze and stir. The only two things to remember in making your granita is to go easy on the sugar and alcohol if you're using any, as that makes it tougher to freeze the mixture because it requires lower temperatures. So with this in mind, I plunged into granita making. I never like things too sweety sweet, I like fresh and interesting, so I decided to experiment and came up with my own seat of the pants flavor.
The Kaffir Lime Syrup
fresh kaffir lime leaves sprinkled with a bit of sugar
mix together 2 cups of water with 1 cup of sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Take the pan off the heat
Add in the Kaffir lime leaves, put a lid on the pot and let the mixture steep for an hour.
Strain the zest and leaves out, pour the simple syrup in to a container or bottle. It'll keep refrigerated for a month or so.
Pour the coconut water,Kaffir lime syrup, Lime juice, and balsamic vinegar together into a 13 x 9 inch glass or metal pan. Mix it together well.
pPop the whole thing into the freezer.
Every 30 minutes scrape the crystals together with a fork stirring them and breaking them up. Continue to do this for the next several hours until it's the consistency you want.
As I said before, I Iike things to be a bit more tart, so my granita tasted of icy coconut lime with a bite of sweet balsamic coconut flavor, almost a bit of a sweet lime pickle. Scooped into a wine glass, it works as a lovely palate cleanser or a not too sweet treat on a hot Wine Country afternoon.