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In Our Kitchen: Cool off with watermelon granita

It's sweaty out there, whew. Jeans are getting pushed to the back of the closet. No pants till September. If, like me, you're looking for an excuse to stick your head in the freezer, the answer is granita. Gra-ni-ta! That's the Italian name for this icy dessert, and you can flavor it pretty much any way you like.

This one tastes intensely of sweet, fresh watermelon enhanced with liqueur and black pepper. We think it's pretty spot-on and we've looked forward to it for dessert each night this week. Watermelon granita hits the spot when your apartment's AC has given all it can give, and it's time to find other ways to keep cool.

And, it only takes a few hours. Granita can be made in all kinds of flavors but what could be more refreshing than icy watermelon? Watermelon is in season and plentiful right now, and this recipe is well worth the effort of breaking one down.

I used a watermelon that weighed almost 6 pounds to get just over the 2 pounds of melon needed. Granita can be made a few days ahead. Keep it covered with plastic wrap in the freezer and scrape again before serving.

Black pepper may seem like an odd pairing with watermelon, but it adds a subtle touch of savory to the sweet melon. I loved the combination. The original recipe called for Muscat but I didn't have any and wasn't about to let that stop me from making this granita. I used St. Germain elderflower liqueur, which is also fairly sweet and has a similar proof.

Ileana Morales is a writer who cooks in a small apartment kitchen in Tampa with fiance Danny Valentine, an education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. For more of their kitchen adventures, visit Ileana's blog, Contact her at


Watermelon and Black Pepper Granita

2 pounds watermelon, rind and seeds removed, coarsely chopped

½ cup sugar

¼ cup elderflower liqueur, Muscat or other sweet dessert wine

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus coarsely ground for serving

Puree watermelon, sugar, liqueur and black pepper in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a 9- by 13-inch baking dish and freeze mixture until edges begin to set, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Use a fork to scrape mixture and break up frozen sections. Freeze, scraping and breaking up ice every 30 minutes, until mixture resembles fluffy shaved ice. This can take 2 to 4 hours. Serve granita in a small glass with coarsely ground black pepper on top.

Granita can be made 3 days ahead. Keep covered with plastic wrap in the freezer and scrape again before serving. If you'd rather not use alcohol, you can omit the liqueur from the recipe.

Serves about 8.

Source: This recipe is adapted from Bon Appétit.

In Our Kitchen: Cool off with watermelon granita 08/18/14 [Last modified: Monday, August 18, 2014 6:55pm]
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