Strawberry Granita

No BBQ is complete without a really great dessert. Search your feelings, Luke. You know it to be true.

The problem with producing the perfect BBQ dessert is that, 9 times out of 10, preparing the rest of the BBQ takes so long that the dessert ends up being an afterthought: store bought ice cream, store bought popcicles tasting faintly of sugar water and, the worst offender of them all, brownies made from a box. Why do that to yourself? After going the extra mile for some amazing grilling and accompaniments, the lasting impression of your BBQ shouldn’t be store bought anything.

Your dessert problems are solved, people: I have discovered BBQ dessert awesomeness.

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A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a magazine called “Tastes of Italia”. The cover had a picture of a raspberry granita on the front. The name is something I only remembered from college and associated with a cheap alcohol drink at a bad party. (Note to college party goers: Regardless of how many ditsy drunk girls tell you it tastes good, it doesn’t.) Although the dessert does not call for alcohol, nor does it contain any of the things I remembered in the drink, I passed the recipe by.

The next time I flipped through the magazine, I stopped at the article and looked at it again, then reluctantly decided against it. I’m not sure how many times I flipped through the magazine and followed the same pattern, reluctantly looking at the recipe, but at one point I decided to just go ahead and give it a shot.

It’s easy, involves the decadence of fresh fruit, and is cold – the perfect way to wrap up a BBQ. Aside from the impressiveness of having a fresh fruit dessert at your table, it’s perfect for those who aren’t as gifted at baking. How I handled the dessert portion is that I prepared the granita right before worrying about the rest of the BBQ food, then threw it into the freezer to chill. The dessert prep takes 15 – 20 minutes total, and that includes clean up.

The recipe can be made with many different fruits – raspberries, blueberries, etc. If you use raspberries, my recommendation would be to strain out the seeds after pureeing. For watermelon, omit the lemon zest. The original recipe called for raspberries, but strawberries happen to be cheaper right now so I grabbed those instead.

Strawberry Granita
2 cups pureed strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 rounded tablespoon of lemon zest

Wash your berries, cut the tops off (for strawberries), and toss those beautiful babies into your blender.

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Put the puree in a large pot along with the water, sugar and lemon zest. Turn your burner onto medium-low and cook long enough so that the sugar crystals dissolve. Remember to use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides, so you don’t miss sugar crystals that need to be mixed in. The cooking process only took a few minutes for me – the mixture was a nice lukewarm temperature when it was ready.

Pour the mixture into a glass baking dish and set it in your freezer. Let it chill for a couple of hours. The recipe says two hours, but mine took about three.

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When it is frozen, it will be a soft-frozen, much like a sorbet. Take a fork and run it through the granita, breaking it up. It will look grainy.

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Serve cold. I thought it tasted a lot like a fresh and frozen Strawberry Julius, but the AwK admin thought it tasted like pure win.

Want to spruce it up a bit upon serving? The “glasses” you see in the photo are actually plastic. I picked them up for a couple of dollars each in my local grocery store’s picnic section: They are kid-tested, dishwasher safe, and AwK approved.

Happy BBQ’ing.

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