It may be cold where you are, but down in Miami, things were hot, hot, hot for the South Beach Food and Wine Festival. Showcasing local and celebrity chefs from around the world, the festival highlighted the flavors and ingredients of the southern United States, with extra flair from Miami’s vibrant Latin influence.
Though it would be impossible to settle on one dish or ingredient to represent the style of Miami’s food culture, the Culinary Institute of America’s Red Wine Granita is the perfect cold dessert for a hot Miami night. Even if you aren’t breaking a sweat in the Sunshine State, this recipe is a light finish to any dinner – and what’s even better is that it can be endlessly adapted to suit your taste.
Granita is the Italian name for what’s more commonly known as Italian or shaved ice. A granita requires only a few ingredients and even less equipment. If you have water, sugar and some fruit or juice on hand, you can make a granita.
Most frozen desserts, like ice cream and sorbet, are made by combining ingredients and churning them in an ice cream machine. The mixture slowly freezes, and as it churns, tiny ice crystals form to make a frozen dessert that is smooth and creamy. Granitas, on the other hand, are mixed much less frequently during freezing (and sometimes not at all, if you want to make it really easy), which results in an icy texture that is incredibly refreshing.
Though this recipe calls for the mixture to be stirred occasionally as it freezes, you can also leave it in a shallow dish to freeze solid, without ever stirring. To serve, simply scrape the surface of the frozen granita mixture with a fork and transfer the shavings to a serving dish.
The red wine in this recipe lends a refreshing, grown-up finish, but you can use nearly any strongly flavored liquid to flavor your granita. Concentrated juices and fresh fruit purees can all be substituted in equal parts for the wine in this recipe. Depending on the sweetness of your flavoring ingredient, you may need to reduce or increase the quantity of sugar. Trust your instincts and sweeten the granita to your preference.
Last summer was all about the frose (a frozen rose wine slushy drink), which was on every brunch menu from Napa to San Antonio. With this granita recipe, you are halfway to your own red wine slushy. After it’s frozen, blend the granita with some frozen berries, then return it to the freezer to chill slightly before serving.
But don’t stop there: Make a raspberry granita and use it as the base for a refreshing champagne cocktail, or try pineapple granita with coconut rum for a mini staycation. Or why not substitute the red wine with lime juice and orange liqueur for a margarita granita? Mix in some chopped mint leaves to make a mojito, and just like that – you’re in Miami!Red Wine Granita
3 cups water
1¾ cups red wine
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup orange juice
¾ cup lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place a 9-by-13-inch glass or metal baking pan in the freezer to chill (if you do not have this size pan, most sizes will work, though a smaller pan will require a longer freezing time).
Combine the water, wine, sugar, orange juice, lemon juice and vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has reduced slightly, about 4 minutes.
Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.
Remove the vanilla bean, if using, then transfer to the chilled baking dish. Place in the freezer and gently stir the mixture with a whisk every 30 minutes until it resembles crushed ice, about 3 hours.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and freeze until needed.