Saturday, 19 February 2011

Mandarin and Cointreau Granita

After my recent citrus splurge I was left with a bowl full of slightly squashed and tired specimens and needed to think of a way to salvage them.  Squeezing them lead to a rather paltry amount of juice so I decided to make a quick sugar syrup, add a couple of spoonfuls of orange liqueur and turn it into a granita.

Granita is one of the easiest, yet most impressive, things you could possibly make.   You don't need any fancy equipment or expensive ingredients, unlike ice cream you want it to become icy and grainy and the flavour combinations are endless.  It can be served as a dessert, snack, 'palate cleanser' if you're feeling posh or even, as they do in Sicily, for breakfast.  After a late night last week, eating curry and drinking lager, waking up to a bowl of this was just what I needed.

For this I used mandarin juice and a simple sugar syrup infused with mandarin zest (you could also add some chopped mint leaves, just make sure the syrup has cooled down first). Any kind of citrus juice can be used, just adjust the amount of sugar syrup to taste.  You could also use different spirits and liqueurs to flavour.  Campari goes well with blood orange, gin with grapefruit, vodka with lemons. Of course you can leave the alcohol out too, although a little bit does stop the mixture freezing quite as hard and makes the texture  lighter. Be careful though: too much and it won't freeze at all!

Mandarin and Cointreau Granita450ml Mandarin juice
150ml Sugar syrup ( made 1:1 caster sugar and water)
Zest of two Mandarins
2 dsps Cointreau or other orange liqueur

Firstly make sugar syrup by placing equal quantities of sugar and water in a saucepan and heating until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has come to the boil.
When the sugar syrup has cooled slightly add the zest and leave to infuse.
Measure 150mls of  the cooled syrup and add to juice (any leftover syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and used for cakes, cocktails, more granita etc)
Add Cointreau, pour into a shallow container and freeze.
Stir the mixture every two hours, flaking up the frozen edges with a fork, until it is completely frozen.
Serve in glasses, with a dollop of cream if your feeling indulgent.

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