Granita is the crunchy cousin to sorbet, more rustic, and for me, more satisfying. The other thing is that making granita isn't cooking, it's freezing. That's it -- and any one can do it. No experience required.
 
So this is granita: imagine scoops of fruit or chocolate ice, maybe flecked with fresh ginger, the ice crystals are shaggy and a little crunchy in your mouth and then melt away leaving tastes so pure and intense you just want more and more. And since there's no fat -- and not much of anything else -- you can eat all you want.

How to Make Granitas:
 
The basic formula. No limits on the possible improvisation.
 
Fruit Granitas: Figure 1-1/2 pounds fruit (that includes tomatoes) to sugar syrup to taste. Where skins add flavor and color, as with apples, don't peel the fruit.
 
Sugar Syrup: you make sugar syrup by cooking equal amounts of sugar and water until the sugar's melted -- about 5 minutes -- do 1 cup each to start because it keeps in the fridge for months.
 
Next step -- add flavoring to taste: These could be grated ginger, orange zest, vanilla, chile, cinnamon, you get the idea. Over-season, since freezing mutes flavorings.
 
For Coffee and Chocolate Granitas: do strong espresso with cinnamon, sweetened to taste ... or make cocoa and chill.
 
Freezing and Serving: For lazy man's granita, you freeze it in a shallow container. Five minutes before serving, break up the ice and run it through the food processor so it's shaggy, and you are done.

Ideas for serving:
 
  • Pear granita with black pepper and vanilla served with sliced fresh pears
  • Chocolate-espresso granita (mix hot chocolate and espresso (ideally brewed with fresh-ground allspice) scooped into espresso or coffee cups with a bowl of soft whipped cream
  • Fresh mint and lemon granita (steep lots of mint in the sugar syrup, strain, then add lemon juice to taste). Serve inside scooped out and frozen lemons. Or top a cold melon soup with the granita.
  • Scoops of tart green apple granita topping bowls of hot butternut squash soup

From the September 18, 2010 show. © 2010, Lynne Rossetto Kasper.