Strawberry granita (a frozen strawberry dessert ice) is the summer’s best and coolest treat, especially when served Sicilian-style with cream! If you can stir, you can make this simple 3 ingredient classic Italian treat!
My first strawberry granita experience was in Sicily.
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If you read my arancini post that I linked to just above here, you can read a little about my trip (it was a long time ago–I was 19!) My Uncle Nino and family had driven to Italy from Scotland, as they did every year, and stopped by my mother’s village to visit the family.
Just before they left to continue on their journey to Sicily, Uncle Nino asked me if I wanted to join them. You’ve never seen anyone pack a bag as quickly as I did that day! Shortly afterwards, we were speeding down the Autostrada del Sole heading for a small village outside Messina, Sicily.
My First Morning in Sicily
When I got up that first morning, Uncle Nino told me to come with him to get breakfast in the center of the village. I told him that I didn’t normally eat breakfast, but this clearly fell on deaf ears. We walked to a bar that was open for breakfast (yes, this is actually normal in all of Italy.)
Uncle Nino then asked me which flavor I wanted: coffee, strawberry, or lemon granita. I didn’t know what to say because I couldn’t believe he wanted me to have a frozen dessert for breakfast, and secondly, because I just wasn’t in the habit of eating in the morning. But he insisted. I reluctantly chose strawberry, truly thinking this was just not going to be an enjoyable experience. At this point, you may be asking…
What is a Strawberry Granita?
A strawberry granita is a lightly sweetened frozen strawberry ice. Strawberries are blended and stirred into a light sugar syrup, then frozen and stirred until ice crystals form. The same method is used for other flavored granitas, like lemon, coffee and rhubarb (recipe coming soon!)
The barista served the frozen strawberry granita topped with mounds of fresh, Italian whipped cream and a beautiful, freshly baked brioche.
I just looked at Uncle Nino with confusion.
Granita for Breakfast?
I honestly thought he was setting me up for a joke. Who eats a granita for breakfast? Better yet, served with a brioche bun? Well, it wasn’t a joke and it is served for breakfast in Sicily.
How to Eat Strawberry Granita in Sicily
Uncle Nino told me I could use the brioche to dip into the cream and strawberry granita, or simply eat it alongside the frozen treat. I wish I had a photo of that morning’s breakfast, although it’s one I shall never erase from my memory: it was sublime.
I tasted the strawberry granita and cream on its own first. I couldn’t get over how incredible the flavor was, and how “normal” it immediately felt to be eating it in the morning! I tore off some of the brioche and boldly dipped away! Oh my, another discovery: somehow, this was a match made in heaven!
Please also try this rhubarb granita with cream, too!
If you love rhubarb, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven!
My Sicilian Breakfast Routine
I was so smitten with this Sicilian breakfast that each subsequent morning that I was in Sicily was spent having a strawberry granita with cream and a brioche! I’ve dreamt about going back to Sicily since then, but sadly, I have never managed to return.
Strawberry Granita or Strawberry Ice
(Sicilian Style with Cream)
recipe by Christina Conte serves 8
FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW
Melt sugar in the water. Remove from heat, bring to room temperature, then chill for about 2 hours or until cold.
Put the strawberries and lemon juice in a blender and process to purée.
Mix the strawberry purée with the sugar water.
Then pour into a metal pan and freeze.
Begin setting a timer for 45 minutes intervals. When the timer sounds, remove the pan from the freezer and stir well with a fork. The first time, it will seem like it’s not working, but it’s okay. Put the pan back into the freezer. Continue this for at least 4 or 5 times or until the granita is ready. You will know when you have ice crystals instead of a solid mass.
If you are serving it with cream, top the strawberry ice with freshly whipped, unsweetened cream. I have an iSi whipper that I love to use on desserts like this.
Although the cream is optional, I wouldn’t skip it if you can have dairy. It makes granita go from great to phenomenal! Of course, I strongly urge you to try it with a brioche, too! If you’re going to do it, do it right. Right? 😉
- 3 cups (700 ml) water
- 3 cups (500 g) strawberries, cut in half (if using cups, cut first then measure)
- 2/3 cup (170 g) sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- (8 oz whipping cream, whipped until thick - optional)
- Melt sugar in the water. Remove from heat, bring to room temperature, then chill for about 2 hours or until cold.
- Put the strawberries and lemon juice in a blender and process to a purée.
- Mix the strawberry purée with the sugar water. Then pour into a metal pan and freeze.
- Begin setting a timer for 45 minutes intervals. When the timer sounds, remove the pan from the freezer and stir well with a fork. The first time, it will seem like it's not working, but it's okay. Put the pan back into the freezer. Continue this for at least 4 or 5 times or until the granita is ready. You will know when you have ice crystals instead of a solid mass.
- Transfer to clear serving glasses or dessert bowls, if serving immediately. If not, move the granita to a sealed container and keep frozen.
- If you are serving it with cream, top the strawberry ice with freshly whipped, unsweetened cream.
Although the cream is optional, I wouldn't skip it if you can have dairy. It makes granita go from great to phenomenal!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 115Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 0gSugar: 25gProtein: 1g
Nutrition info is estimated and is calculated without the cream topping.
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