Tag Archives: Granitas

Mac Attack #21: Lemon granita with a chocolate macaron crumble

I’m not sure where July has gone, it seems to have just sped by, and somehow it’s already the 1st of August, so I should probably get myself into gear and post my entry for July’s Mac Attack challenge (the deadline was yesterday, not cutting it fine at all, nope…).  Actually, aside from my general disorganisation, there’s a very logical reason that I’ve left it to the very last minute.  You see, the theme was “ice-cream” so we had to create a dessert using ice-cream or sorbet and macarons.  But here’s the thing – actually, before I go any further, I hope you’re sitting down (so far nobody has died of shock at the up-coming revelation, but I don’t want to take any chances) – I don’t like ice-cream.  Yes, you did read that correctly, and I’m fully aware of how bizarre a concept that is (try being a child living in a fairly warm country like Nigeria and having an aversion to ice-cream…).  My main issue with ice-cream is that it’s too cold, which I know is the whole point of ice-cream, but there you go.  I’m also not a great fan of the texture.  So the thought of creating a dessert including ice-cream didn’t exactly have me jumping for joy.

Luckily though, I do quite like sorbets.  I know they’re cold too, but they always seem slightly less cold than ice-cream to me, though I’m not really sure why.  And I tend to let them melt a bit before I eat them anyway (thus somewhat defying the point, I know).  I also much prefer the lighter and smoother texture of good quality sorbets, and I love how fruity they are.  So I thought I might do something involving a sorbet of some sort.  But, because I’m a bit lazy, I wasn’t feeling especially motivated to make my own sorbet and I’m not really sure where to find good sorbet in Edinburgh (any recommendations welcome!).  This left me in a little bit of a pickle.  And then, on Friday, it suddenly hit me – perhaps I could do something with a granita!  They’re frozen, so that’s totally close enough to ice-cream/sorbets, right?  I’m going with yes.  My first foray into the world of granitas was the G&T granita that I made for World Gin Day, and although it took 9 hours to freeze properly, it turned out to be easy to make and rather delicious.

I decided to try out a lemon granita recipe that I came across in delicious. a few months ago, and go for the cop-out option of sprinkling some crushed macaron shells over the top to create a dessert.  This was going to be the first time that I made macarons using my mum’s oven, so I wasn’t sure how they would turn out (since every oven is different and I’m not quite used to this one yet) – crushed macarons seemed the safest bet in case they went horribly wrong.  I was going to make the lemon granita on Saturday, but it ended up being warm and sunny (a rare occurrence in Scotland, but it does occasionally happen!) so we went for a wander in the Pentlands (a series of hills just outside Edinburgh).  Which means that although I made the macarons shells that evening (which thankfully turned out fine), I didn’t have time to make the granita and ended up making it yesterday.  It turned out rather yummy – fresh and summery, and the macarons shells complemented the very lemon-y granita wonderfully.

Lemon granita with a chocolate macaron crumble

Serves 3
Granita recipe adapted from delicious. (June 2011)
Macaron shell recipe based on Mad About Macarons!

The shells can be made a couple of days in advance and kept in an air-tight container until required.  The granita can also be made in advance, though will require some thorough stirring to break up the ice crystals before serving.  Adding a splash of vodka to the granita is completely optional, but I find that it slightly enhances the flavour of the lemons.

Ingredients

For the granita:
150g sugar (granulated or caster – it doesn’t really matter)
150 ml water
Grated zest of 1 lemon
200 ml lemon juice (roughly 5-6 small lemons)
100 ml vodka

For the macaron shells:
40g aged egg whites
27g caster sugar
48g ground almonds
72g icing sugar
3g cocoa powder (at least 70%)

Directions

To make the granita:
1.   Place the water and the sugar in a small saucepan and simmer gently over a low heat for around 10 mins until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid reduces a bit to a slightly syrupy viscosity.  Remove from the heat and pour into a heat-proof bowl and allow to cool.

2.  Mix in the lemon juice and allow to rest for 30 mins, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the lemon zest and vodka, and pour into a freeze-proof container with a lid (an old plastic ice-cream tub is ideal) and place in the freezer.

3.  After 2 hours, remove the container and stir with a fork (don’t worry if it’s still liquid).  Place the container back in the freezer for a further 30 mins, before removing and beating with a fork.  Once again, place the container back into the freezer.  Repeat every 30 mins for a total of 4 ½ to 5 hours (not including the initial 2 hours).  Store in the freezer until ready to serve.

To make the macaron shells:
4. Line one or two flat baking sheets with baking paper and set aside.  Prepare a piping bag with a plain nozzle.

5.  Blend the icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder together (don’t skip this step!)  Sift them through a medium sieve into a large bowl.  Sift them again if necessary.

6.  Make the French meringue by whisking the egg whites at room temperature (take them out of the fridge 2h beforehand) to glossy firm peaks, gradually adding the caster sugar.

7.  Incorporate the French meringue into the dry ingredients using a large spatula and mix well.  Now work on the mixture by pressing down well with the spatula, going backwards and forwards, to press out the oxygen from the egg whites (this is the macaronnage stage), until you have a smooth mixture.  Don’t do this for longer than 5 minutes.  The result should be a soft and brilliant mixture that forms a “ribbon” on the spatula.

8.  Transfer the mixture to the previously prepared piping bag and pipe out the desired size of rounds (mine were about 1.5-2cm in diameter, but these don’t have to be perfect – they’ll be broken up later).  Press the nozzle right down on the paper and finish off with a flourish to obtain a nice round.  Leave a good space between them so they can spread out.

9.  Leave to set for about 30mins (this helps to produce the feet).  Preheat the oven to fan-oven 160°C.  When you can feel that a skin has formed over the top, they are ready to go into the oven.

10.  Bake one tray at a time in the centre of the oven for about 8-10mins (to see if they are done, touch the top – if there is a “wobble,” leave them in 2-3mins longer).  Leave them to cool fully on the baking trays before carefully removing them and storing them in an airtight container until required.

11.  When ready to serve, break the macaron shells up into pieces.  Remove the granita from the freezer and beat with a fork to break the ice crystals up.  Spoon into 3 bowls or glasses (martini glasses make for impressive-looking presentation!) and sprinkle with the broken up macarons.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

Happy (belated) World Gin Day 2011!

Yes, that’s right, yesterday was World Gin Day!  In case you don’t already know, I’m quite a big gin fan, so I don’t think I don’t have to tell you quite how enthusiastic I was about a whole day dedicated to gin…  (By the way, if you don’t like gin, I wouldn’t really bother with the rest of this post.)

I obviously wasn’t going to let World Gin Day slip away without making something gin-related.  I was originally going to do something in the form of baked goods (for a change), but none of my fellow gin-lovers are currently here in St Andrews, and I feel that eating an entire batch of gin-packed baked goods of whatever description all by myself smacks somewhat of alcoholism and very much of loneliness.  So I’ve had to change my plans a little.  Never fear though, I’ve still got something exciting for you…

I needed to find something that could either be made in an individual portion or could be stored for a while.  I was drawing a blank on something that I could make an individual portion of, which left finding something that I could make and have a little bit of today and then store for a while until everybody gets back.  I decided to make a Gin & Tonic granita, which is basically a Slush Puppie (remember those?  I haven’t one in forever!) but alcoholised.  With the bonus that it can be stored in the freezer, though it might require some vigorous stirring to break up the crystals after a few days.

As I was looking up G&T granita recipes, a rather genius idea hit me: I could add some of the cucumber liqueur that I’ve not really sure what to do with.  It goes wonderfully with regular G&Ts, so there’s no particular reason why it wouldn’t work in a granita.  This turned out to be a rather inspired idea, if I do say so myself…  I thoroughly enjoyed my portion of the granita, and the rest is currently sitting quite contently in the freezer, waiting for Kat and Craig to drop by, or anybody else with a penchant for gin.  I only ran into one issue whilst making this: it took forever.  The recipe that I adapted stated that it required 2 hours of total freezing time.  However, the extra alcohol in the liqueur in addition to the increased quantity of gin that I used meant that the first ice crystals started forming in the granita about 4 hours after going into the freezer.  I totally forgot to take the higher alcohol content into account, and in total, the granita required a stint of about 9 hours in the freezer.  Nine hours.  Which is why this post is going up today rather than yesterday (I didn’t have time to sort the photos out last night).  Woops.  On the plus side, at least that means that you can just pop in the freezer and go about your daily business and just check on it from time to time when you’re home, without worrying about it.

Gin & Tonic granita

Makes about 1 litre
Adapted from delicious. online

The granita takes a while to freeze, so it would probably be a good idea to make it the day before you’re planning on serving it and then just stir it up enthusiastically just before serving up.  Although I’ve suggested serving it as a dessert in martini glasses or tumblers, the granita would also work perfectly served as an amuse-bouche in shot glasses.  It’s also quite yummy to drink when it melts.  Obviously, make sure you use a good quality gin because you’ll definitely be able to taste it – I chose Bombay Sapphire because it’s very aromatic.

Ingredients

100ml water
200g caster sugar
175ml gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)
75ml cucumber liqueur
500ml tonic water (without saccharin)
Cucumber slices, to garnish

Directions

1.  Heat the water and sugar together in a large saucepan for about 5 mins until all the sugar has dissolved.  Remove from the heat and mix in the gin, cucumber liqueur and tonic.  Allow to cool a little before pouring into a freezer-proof container and allowing to cool fully to room temperature before freezing.

2.  After about 4 hours, remove and break up any ice crystals that have formed using a fork, before returning to the freezer.  After about 1 ½ hours, remove the granita and once again break up any ice crystals up with a fork before returning to the freezer.  Repeat after 1 ½ hours, and once again after a further 1 ½ hours.  Just before serving, break the ice crystals up to Slush Puppie consistency, and serve in martini glasses or tumblers, each garnished with a slice of cucumber.

Enjoy!  (And just pretend it’s still World Gin Day!)

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Filed under Drinks, Recipes, Sweet Foods