In New Orleans, snowballs reign supreme in the summer. No, NOT snowcones. Or shaved ice, or any other coarse, crunchy ice in a paper cone that you could probably just blitz in your food processor. The New Orleans snowball is a completely different animal. The ice is the defining factor– it must be so fine that it melts in your mouth (the best ice goes to Hansen’s). Next, the flavors. Great snowball stands don’t just have the classics, they have everything from bananas foster cream (at Plum Street) to Pink Squirrel and Robin (at my neighborhood stand, Sal’s). The syrup is poured liberally on the snowball, and voila! Summertime bliss.
But granita? I was suspicious, as it always seemed to me to be just a pale imitation of a snowball. However, I’ve come to acknowledge its place. Granita can exist in an entirely separate world than snowballs, as they’re different animals. In this recipe, over a pound of blackberries gives the granita its concentrated flavor and beautifully rich dark purple hue (don’t be like me and wear white shorts when you make/eat this…). Mascarpone cream gives the granita what it lacks by itself—a rounding out of the textures (not so crunchy). Then top with lemon zest and some blackberries, and you’ve got the prettiest dessert.
adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2013
Makes around 6-8 servings
I liked that this dessert was well-balanced, in texture (icy granita + mascarpone cream + juicy blackberries) as well as flavor. That being said, I’d advise you not to skip the mascarpone cream, as it adds greatly to the dessert.
4 cups blackberries (about 18 ounces)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon crème de cassis (black-currant liqueur; optional)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of kosher salt
Lemon cream and assembly
1/2 cup mascarpone
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus more for garnish
1 1/3 cups blackberries (about 6 ounces), cut in half crosswise if you’re feeling fancy like Bon Appetit was
Purée blackberries, sugar, crème de cassis, if using, lemon juice, salt, and 1 cup water in a food processor or blender until smooth. Strain purée through a fine-mesh sieve into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan (preferably metal, as it will freeze the granita quicker than a glass pan will), pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible.
Freeze mixture until edges begin to set, about 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the freezer, and using a fork, scrape to break up frozen portions. Freeze, scraping and breaking up mixture every 20-30 minutes (or sporadically every 45ish minutes, if you’re a granita-neglecter like me), until mixture resembles fluffy shaved ice, 2-4 hours.
For lemon cream and assembly:
Just before serving, whisk together mascarpone, heavy cream, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest in a medium bowl until soft peaks form.
Serve granita topped with lemon cream, halved blackberries, and more lemon zest.
Storing: The granita can be made several days ahead and kept frozen, covered. Scrape with a fork before serving.