I Say Granita, She Says Benicia

While on the way to school this morning my daughter exclaimed “I didn’t get Benicia!”.   Benicia?  I had no clue what she was talking about and neither did her brother (he’s usually pretty good at deciphering).  She continued to kind of talk to herself about falling asleep early the night before.  She moved on and forgot about the question. 

Tonight when I was making dinner my daughter asked “Do we still have Benicia?”  Again with the Benicia.  When I told her we were having salmon, veggies and rice she got quite irritated with me and said “for dessert!”  It took me a minute.  “Ohhhhhh.” I said “Do you mean Granita?!”  She laughed and said “It’s not called Granita, that’s silly.  You know that blood orange stuff.”  Okay, Got it.   

I’ve been getting a head start on making some of my favorite Chinese New Year  recipes so I coul d get some photos for articles and blogs and had made the granita a few nights ago.  Granita is an icy dessert; made quite simply with juice, water and simple syrup.  It’s a light and refreshing finish to a meal by itself and can also be served over vanilla ice cream.  You can make this with any citrus, although I usually use tangerine because of the good luck factor during Chinese New Year.  This time I couldn’t pass up the blood oranges.  I love them and they’re not always in season.  It was delicious and so pretty (fun pink for Valentine’s idea too).

Citrus Granita

This recipe was inspired by pastry chef Andrea Mautner of Restaurant TWO in San Francisco (such a bummer it’s closed). While attending a cooking class she prepared a wonderful dessert with this as one of the “elements.” I thought this simple icy treat would be perfect for a Chinese New Year celebration, because one of the symbols for luck is tangerines, which are given to children during the holiday.   

Makes 8 (1/2-cup) servings

Juice of 5 to 6 blood orange or other citrus (about 1½ cups)

¾ cup Simple Syrup (see note below)

¼ cup water

 Combine citrus juice, Simple Syrup, and water in a bowl. Pour into an 8-inch-glass baking dish or pie dish. Freeze for about 2 to 3 hours, until frozen.

            Once fully frozen, scrape granita into flakes with a fork. They may melt easily and be a bit slushy. Granita can be eaten as a slushy now or refreeze for another hour. It will become icier.

Spoon into tall, old-fashioned ice cream glasses or mini ramekins. Serve immediately or return to freezer until ready to serve. Fluff with a fork again before serving.

 Tip. Clear the Freezer. Be sure you have a level space to set the granita to harden before walking over to the freezer with the liquid.

 Kids Korner

This will melt quickly. If kids aren’t eating it fast enough, serve along with straws to get all of the juice. Or spoon over vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt for an old-time Creamsicle reminder.

Note to Make Simple Syrup:

Heat equal amounts (1 cup each) of turbinado (raw) or white sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved and mixture has thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

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