I like sweets. I like offensively tall cakes, syrup-laced cinnamon rolls that have no business being considered breakfast, and fudge with bacon in it.
I love all these things, so much so that I’ve even convinced some people to pay me to make them, even though I secretly think it’s all a lie, and I’m going to be told as much through a pecan pie with a note at the bottom reading “you’re an idiot.” Thankfully that hasn’t happened yet.
Despite the love, all those beautiful baked and cooked and chocolated goods (and I mean goods in the most literal way I can muster) are heavy. They can and occasionally do overwhelm, and not just in the “Oh God, I ate too much, I’m gonna lie down” way.
You pay a toll to yourself after these things, and the toll is convincing yourself that what you just did, what you just ate, isn’t that bad. Maybe you pay it before you do the baking, and you run a bit on a treadmill or lift something heavy or some such thing. Maybe you pay it by having a truly, decisively bad day, and that’s why you’ve earned that extra cupcake. Or maybe you wait until after and do the old “it wasn’t that bad” dance like always.
Either way, the toll is the toll. And it’s a good thing and a bad thing. I don’t believe in guilt, and I don’t think it has any place in enjoying good food, but it also is quite possibly the sole thing that keeps us from brownie-ing ourselves to death.
The toll caught up with me this week, but as I said, I get paid for this, so I gotta make a living. So I made Lemon-Thyme Granita with Blackberry Balsamic Syrup so I could get my paycheck and not viciously assault my BMI at the same time.
This recipe is easy to make and I liked the lemon-thyme flavor. Though the granita by itself was a bit too sweet, the balsamic-blackberry syrup helped to balance it. The first half of the recipe says to simmer but does not clarify for how long, so I simmered it for 5 minutes. Overall, the flavor combinations were good. This would be a great recipe to turn into an adult drink. —Angela
1 1/4 cups
fresh thyme (use the whole stems, don't chop it)
lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
balsamic vinegar (I used fig balsamic. If you can find it, use it. It's amazing.)
Get yourself a small saucepan and pour your water and sugar into it.
Turn the burner to medium, and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved.
Bring the liquid to a boil, then add the thyme, bring it back down to a simmer, and put a lid on it. That lid's important, by the way. I've seen plenty of recipes forget the lid part, which means they're also forgetting that all that steam that's rising out of the pot is carrying your hard-earned flavor along with it. Shut it tight!
Take your pot off the heat, and let it cool to room temperature.
Once the liquid's cooled off, pour it through a strainer to get any of those thyme leaves out of there. We're making a granita, not a salad.
Pour your lemon juice in, stir, and pour the whole thing into a large, wide dish. You want something close to 9-x-13-inches on this, otherwise you're gonna need an ice pick to get through it once it freezes.
Check the mixture every 45 minutes until it starts to freeze. Once that happens, start scraping it up with a fork every 45 minutes. You want the consistency to be the same as shaved ice, so keep at it with the fork until it looks like that.
Next, the syrup. Making jam or any jam-related things pretty much just involves dumping fruit and sugar into a pot and putting fire underneath it until it becomes jam. Luckily, syrup works in the exact same way.
All you need to do is dump all the syrup ingredients in a small pot, turn it to medium-high, and stir. That's it. You want the syrup to be just above a simmer, so adjust accordingly.
While you're stirring, make sure you crush the berries against the side of the pan occasionally. This'll make the whole thing go quicker. Not that it really matters since the granita has to freeze for a lot of hours, but hey, it'll let you get back to whatever it was you were doing that much quicker. Like watching "Friends" on DVD or something.
Once it starts to look noticeably thicker, get some on the back of a spoon and run a finger across it. If it leaves a trail, you're good to go. If not, keep it cooking for a little longer.
Take the syrup off heat, and pour it through a strainer. Make sure you press the berries into the strainer with the back of a spoon; that'll ensure that you get every last bit of that tasty juice in the syrup.
All that's left is to put some granita in a bowl and pour some syrup over the top. Oh, and stick a thyme sprig on top too.