Since visiting Siciliy earlier in the year I regularly day dream about granita for breakfast, a common Sicilian way to start the day. When you think of the current heatwave we are going through it is totally understandable how a hot morning coffee might not be the most pleasant way to wake up but a cold refreshing espresso granita on the other hand, well that I can get behind. Whilst coffee is one of my go to flavours right now I am favouring bright fruity flavours and right now that means strawberries. I don’t know if our recent summers have had an effect on this years crops but English strawberries are tasting absolutely fantastic at the moment and I am crushing hard (as you can probably tell by my recent crop of recipes) and this recipe is a kind of cross country love letter to strawberries. The granita is Sicilian in style, less icy and more towards a sorbet and the ice cream is of the Philadelphia style so no eggs and minimal effort, it also leads to a cleaner more dairy forward flavour and the yolks don't have a chance to dull the flavour of the vanilla. But the combination of the granita and ice cream cant help but make me think of that classic British treat of strawberries and cream. If you're looking for that easy recipe to make this summer this might be the one.
450g strawberries, hulled and halved
100g caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon (or two limes)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
To make the granita add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and toss together. Set the bowl aside, allowing the fruit to macerate, for about 30-60 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the berries are sat in a bowl of ruby red strawberry juice. If you wanted a subtle mint flavour at the moment you could also set some mint into the bowl with the berries.
Using a blender or food processor pulse the berries until smooth, then pass through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Pour the strawberry puree into a wide container that will fit into the freezer and allow to chill for about 4 hours. Every 30 minutes or so use a fork to break up the ice crystals, until you have a slightly icy, slightly slushy texture. At this point the granita is ready to serve.
Philadelphia Style Ice Cream
250ml double cream
500ml whole milk
2 vanilla bean pods (or vanilla bean paste)
150g caster sugar
4 tbsp milk powder
To make the ice cream add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and gently whisk together, you're not adding air you just want to encourage the milk powder and sugar to dissolve. Once everything is fully incorporated and the sugar has dissolved churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufactures instructions. If you don’t have an ice cream machine there are other ways, similar to the granita method, to make ice cream but the results wont be as good. I am a big fan of homemade ice cream and the small investment needed for the equipment will absolutely pay off over a summer (especially as basic models can be very cheap these days and generally do a decent job).
When the ice cream has the texture of soft serve scoop it into a suitable container, I use a loaf tin, and place into the freezer for about 4 hours or until firm but scoop-able. Bear in mind that Philadelphia style ice cream will not last as long as ones made with a custard so it needs eating within a few days.
To serve scoop some vanilla ice cream into small glasses and top with plenty of granita.