“A lot of people think Passover just means you can’t eat bread. But it’s so much more than that, and that’s what I find the hardest. I love ice cream, but it has corn syrup in it, so I can’t eat it.” ~Marsha Cohen*
*Oh, poor Marsha, don’t fret. At 365scoops we don’t use corn syrup in our ice cream, so you can always eat our creations!
It’s hard to believe that it’s almost Passover…where has the year gone? I feel like it was just last week when we gathered around the Seder table scarfing down charoset and matzah ball soup. In honor of Passover, I was asked to write a piece for The Nosher and My Jewish Learning and provide you, my readers, with a Passover frozen treat.
Aside from the important themes of Passover, particularly those of freedom and liberty, Passover also means, at least in my world, a paucity of good desserts. While I am completely obsessed with ice cream, I also love sinking my teeth in a nice, moist piece of cake. That just ‘aint possible on Passover. The other major pain about Pesach is that no one ever has good cooking utensils. We always reserve the good stuff for the rest of the year, and often our pots and pans, let alone baking equipment for Pesach, ends up being pretty junky. Save for the amazing omelet pan that my parents have for Passover (I’m convinced omelets are better this time of year as a result of the pan) we don’t have nearly as many fun kitchen gadgets. Needless to say, this obviously goes for the ice cream maker as well.
Though I am a big supporter of a kosher-for-Passover ice cream maker, I realize that it’s a completely unnecessary expense. So, in the absence of an ice cream maker, you might be left with a dearth of good dessert ideas.
Enter the granita. Originally created in Italy, the granita is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and flavoring. It requires absolutely no special equipment, and the beautiful thing about this granita is that it can be served as a dessert (perhaps with some fresh berries on the side) or as an intermezzo (or, as I prefer, an intermatzoh) to cleanse the palette between courses at the Seder. It’s your choice…and whatever you decide, you won’t be disappointed.
Strawberry Lemonade Granita
Adapted from My Baking Addiction
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Juice from 2 lemons (approximately 4 tbs)
Zest from 1 lemon
3 cups strawberries, hulled
1 tbs potato vodka (optional)
First make simple syrup. Normally simple syrup is made with 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, in other words, a 1:1 ratio. However, this recipe cuts down on the sugar (you’ll thank me later) and ends up just fine!
Prepare the simple syrup by combining the water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking often to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 4 minutes, while continuing to whisk until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool, then transfer to a bowl or container, cover, and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour.
While the mixture is cooling, place the strawberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and vodka into a blender and mix until smooth.
Pour the cool simple syrup into the strawberry/lemon puree and blend until mixed.
Pour into an 8×8 square glass pan and freeze. After approximately 2 hours, check the granita. Once it has started to freeze run a fork through the entire pan and begin breaking up the ice to make little icicles. Return the dish to the freezer, then check the mixture every 30 minutes afterward, stirring each time and breaking up any large chunks into small pieces with a fork, until you have fine crystals of homemade granita!
If by mistake, you forget about the granita and it freezes solid, run a very sharp knife through frozen mixture from one side of the pan to the other to loosen the ice crystals. Then scrape a fork back and forth to create fine crystals. Scoop into a cup and enjoy!
While this makes a quart of granita, it doesn’t actually serve as many people as a quart of ice cream. Expect to serve four people with this, especially because they’ll definitely come back for seconds!
Serve with fresh strawberries and a lemon wedge to enhance the presentation. Enjoy!
The Verdict: Delicious! The addition of potato vodka actually raises the freezing temperature, so the granita was slightly slushie. Plus, after a long Passover Seder, a little vodka might be a good idea!
The best part? No ice cream maker or tools required. This is a very simple crowd pleaser and absolutely refreshing as well. Granitas are a perfect treat for Passover or year round. Enjoy.