Next, I wanted to taste the granita with dairy. Both Meyer lemon zest and juice were used. Some candied ginger was finely minced and added to the lemon zest, juice, and some sugar, and the mixture was brought to a simmer for a few minutes. Creme fraiche and milk were added along with two whole basil stems. I made this a couple of weeks ago before my basil plants succumbed to the cold weather we’ve had lately, and if you don't have basil on hand, it will still be great without it. The basil steeped in the milk mixture until it was completely cool before it was removed. Then, as with any granita, the liquid was poured into a shallow dish and placed in the freezer. Every 45 minutes or so, the surface was scraped with a fork to form crystals.
The flavor was floral, lemony, tart, and rich. The dairy made it more crumbly than icy. And, I loved the snowy look of the granita scooped into dessert bowls. This book is great inspiration for seeking out small-batch, well-made dairy and cheese products, and it’s the perfect book for anyone who loves cheese.
Lemon-Ginger Creme Fraiche Granita
Recipe reprinted with publisher's permission from Cowgirl Creamery Cooks.
Serves 6 to 8
Tangy, creamy, and yet still light, this granita doesn’t require an ice-cream machine. You just need a stainless-steel pan or liner and a fork to scrape up the ice crystals every hour or so. A glass container will work as well, although liquid freezes faster in stainless steel. A pan that measures 9 by 9 in/23 by 23 cm or 13 by 9 in/33 by 23 cm is large enough so the liquid is relatively shallow. Use Meyer lemons for this if you can get them, but it’s good made with any juicy lemon.
1/4 cup (60 ml) Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp Finely minced lemon zest
1 tsp Finely minced candied ginger
1/4 cup (50 g) Sugar
1 cup (240 ml) Creme fraiche
1 cup (240 ml) Milk (whole or low-fat)
2 Big whole stems of basil
Combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, candied ginger, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and let it cook for about 2 minutes. Taste the liquid. The heat will neutralize the lemon’s acidity so the juice doesn’t taste so puckery and so it doesn’t curdle the milk. Pour in the creme fraiche and milk. Rub the whole basil stems between your hands to release the oils and add them to the mixture. Let steep in the warm liquid until completely cool.
Remove the basil from the liquid and discard. Pour the liquid into a shallow stainless-steel pan, cover well with plastic wrap, and place it in the freezer. After 45 minutes to 1 hour, use a fork to scrape up the frozen crystals. Replace the plastic wrap and put the pan back in the freezer. An hour later, scrape again. Do this four times, and then spoon the granita into small bowls to serve or cover well with plastic wrap and store in the freezer. Fluff the granita with a fork just before serving. This delicate frozen dessert is best served the day you make it.
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