I have an odd fondness for sucking on ice. Back in the day, I made sure I had a fully stocked supply of ice cubes in my freezer and everytime I went into the kitchen or left the house, I would pop one in my mouth and suck away. I have no idea where I got this habit from but it was one way to get me to, you know, ‘drink’ water so nobody complained! Obviously this means that I freaking love icy desserts. Especially granitas and slushies. And no surprise that my favourite flavour is always strawberry.
I also love granitas as a prepare-in-advance dessert for summer gatherings and parties. Serve it in glasses with extra berries and a shot of vodka or top it up with champagne. Even better… add jelly. In this case, a Moscato jelly. As long as it isn’t fresh pineapple, kiwi fruit, figs, papaya or contains excessive alcohol, you can virtually give anything the jello treatment (I so don’t recommend aspic though – bleurgh).
I can slowly feel the warmth in the air and ever so slightly, spring is slowly pushing winter out of the picture. I’m not quite ready to walk on my cold tiles without socks yet but I’m now happily enjoying my granitas so it’s not long until I hit the beach!
Strawberry Moscato Granita
500g ripe strawberries – hulled and roughly chopped
70g caster sugar
1/3 cup (85ml) sweet moscato / pink moscato (see note 1)
1 Tbl (15ml) lime juice (or to taste)
A few mint leaves, finely chopped (optional)
Place the roughly chopped strawberries, sugar and water in a double boiler or heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and gently stir with a spatula until sugar has dissolved.
Cover the bowl with a pot lid or plate and steam the strawberries for around 60-90 minutes or until strawberries have lost colour and is totally soft. Make sure to check on the water every so often to make sure it hasn’t completely evaporated and top up with more boiled water as needed.
When ready, strain the liquid into a bowl/jug and gently press the strawberries on the sieve to extract more juice. Discard the strawberries.
Add the moscato, lime juice and mint (if using) and stir. Pour into a container or pan, cover with clingwrap and place into the freezer. After 1.5 – 2 hrs, take it out and you’ll see the sides frozen or starting to be. Use a fork to scrape the frozen bits back towards the centre of the dish. Cover and put back into the freezer.
Every 1-2 hours, take out the container and use your fork to scrape the ice into frozen bits and pieces. The more frequent you do this as it freezes, the finer and slushier the granita will be. If you forget, no dramas, you’ll just end up with coarser ice bits.
If you completely forget to do any scraping (we’ve all experienced granita-amnesia at least once!), you could always put it through an ice crusher or powerful blender to crush into ice crystals. Cover and store granita in the freezer (obviously).
(Recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay)
55g caster sugar
350ml sweet moscato
2 leaves of titanium strength gelatine (or 3 level tsps of powdered gelatin) – see note 2
In cold water, soak the titanium leaves to soften.
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute.
Combine the sugar syrup and Moscato in a bowl. Measure out 250ml or 1 cup of the Moscato mixture and warm in a saucepan over medium heat. Squeeze excess water from softened gelatin leaves, add to pan and stir until completely dissolved.
Add gelatin mixture to remaining Moscato mixture in the bowl then pour into 2 x 250ml capacity glasses (or 4 small ones) or a 750ml capacity bowl and refrigerate overnight or until set.
Serve jellies topped with the Strawberry and Moscato Granita and extra strawberries if you wish.
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller)
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Note 1: Moscato or Moscato d’Asti is a light, sweet, slightly effervescent wine made from muscat grapes (NOT to be confused with the dark, raisiny fortified muscats of course!). Brown Brothers (Victoria) makes a decent and cheap white and pink moscato although I personally love Tulloch (Hunter Valley, NSW) for their pink moscato.
Note 2: No matter what gelatine you are using, for this recipe, you’ll need enough to set 500ml (2 cups) of liquid to a medium jelly.
As a rough guide, to set 250ml/1 cup of liquid to a medium jelly you’ll need one of these measurements:
- 1 x titanium or silver strength gelatin sheet (1 sheet = 5g)
- 3 x gold or Gelita white or gold gelatin sheet
- 1.5 tsps or 5g of powdered gelatin (I’d stick to 2 if you are unmoulding your jelly otherwise 1.5 should be enough)
Bear in mind, that the issue of correct measurements, ratios and weight equivalents of different gelatin strengths is still up in the air and nobody has provided a definitive answer yet (in fact I find all the articles talking about gelatin even more confusing!).
So take my guide with a grain of salt. To be safe, if you are unmoulding your dessert, it’s always best to stay safe and veer to adding a little more gelatin. If not, then it should be ok to stay modest with your measurements. I’ve always preferred slightly softer jellies and panna cottas over firm but work with what’s best for you.
Whatever you use, always read the instructions and follow the guide that came with your particular brand / type of gelatin.