cold treats, fit for a beach shack

mango granita with coconut cream

For those of you who are regular visitors to stonesoup, it will not come as a surprise that I’m admitting to being an icecream freak. There isn’t anything in the dessert arena that gets my heart racing like a good scoop or two. In Winter I love to serve it as an accompaniment to hot, rich things like a crumble, but it is during the Summer months that icecream tends to take center stage as a dessert on its own.

One of the best gifts I ever indulged in for myself is my trusty icecream machine. A quick scroll through the dessert section of the stonesoup recipe index is a testament to the fact that this is one kitchen appliance that hasn’t been kept hidden at the back of the cupboard. From the exoticness of black pepper, there’s been your classic vanilla, fresh fig, dried fig, pistachio nougat, cardamom, rosemary scented, cinnamon, honey roasted macadamia and even malted chocolate… and that’s before we even begin to think about the sorbets.

The very first recipe I ever posted was for icecream: passionfruit and lemon to be precise. Yes folks, I’m serious about my iced desserts. But I haven’t always been blessed with an icecream maker. I still remember those dark days, stumbling across tempting icecream recipes, attempting to churn by hand and always being disappointed with the result to the point of deciding that unless you had the right gear, icecream was something that was best out-sourced.

My recent Summer holidays saw me temporarily back in an icecream-machine-free world. Although my packing tendencies do have something of a kitchen sink flavour to them, the thought of lugging such a heavy piece of kit to a beach shack just did not feel right. As I began to contemplate a bleak holiday without frozen treats, I had one of those lightening bolt moments. Granita! Of course. If you aren’t going to be able to achieve the silky smooth vibe of icecream or sorbet why not move the goal posts and go for a chunky, icy texture instead and then serve with a dollup of double cream for contrast, richness and flavour….all good things….

apricot granita with double cream
serves 4

 

Apricots are one of those things that when they are good, they are very very good but when they are bad…blah. I still remember my first ripe apricot picked from my Pop’s lovingly tended tree, an experience that has left me with very high standards when it comes to this little stonefruit. Unless you can get your hands on some full flavoured apricots, I’d probably recommend giving them a miss and substituting in peaches, nectarines or even blood plums.

500g ripe apricots, halved & destoned
1/2C sugar
1/2C water
1/2C orange juice
double cream or crème fraiche, to serve

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Add apricots and bring to a simmer for about 5mins. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Puree in a food processor or with a stick blender or mash with a fork if you’re really packing light – a few fruit chunks will add to the texture. Stir through orange juice and place in a large container in the freezer. Freeze for 2 hours then remove and stir with a fork to combine the outer, more frozen, bits with the softer middle. Return to the freezer for a few more hours or until just frozen.

To serve, scoop granita into rough ice shavings and divide between 4 cups or pretty glasses. Pass cream separately.
Note. If the granita is frozen solid, it may help to let it stand in the refrigerator for 15mins or so to soften before attempting to scoop out.
mango granita with coconut cream
serves 4

Mangos have to be the quintessential Summer fruit and have been stellar this year compared with the paltry cyclone Larry affected crop from last Summer. So fragrant and sweet, they still have something of the exotic and the erotic about them and are really best eaten in the bath, naked, preferably with someone you love….OK starting to get a little carried away there…

If you do feel like a change from simple fresh mango, this granita is a crowd pleaser and doesn’t require one to be in a bath or in company for full enjoyment, although by all means if that’s where you’d prefer to take your dessert please go ahead.

If the thought of reducing the coconut cream seems like too much trouble, feel free to give it a miss or substitute in some double cream if you are in the mood for something less virtuous.

125mL (1/2C) water
110g (1/2C) sugar
3 medium mangos (approx 500g mango flesh)
juice ½ – 1 lemon
275mL coconut cream

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil stirring periodically until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool. Place mango flesh in a food processor and puree. Add sugar syrup and mix until well combined. Add juice of ½ lemon and taste. If tastes too sweet add a little more lemon until the flavour is balanced.

Place in a container and freeze for 2 hours. Using a fork break up the ice crystals on the edges and stir through. You don’t need to be too fussy here the idea is to end up with a rough icy texture, not something that is sorbet smooth. Return to the freezer and freeze for a few more hours or until just frozen.

In the mean time place coconut cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer and cook for 15minutes, stirring occasionally until the cream is reduced and thickened. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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