Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Almond Granita 1.0

It was good warm too, 2010

When we decided a trip to Southern Italy was off the table for this year my heart sank a little. We have wonderful memories, so many reasons to return, and I really wanted to try a granita di mandorle (almond granita). I just discovered the granita during my last trip to Italy. I don't know how I missed it during earlier trips, but as my dad would say... It is what it is. The lemon granita was my first and last granita. I was smitten with the lemon granita and had no interest in further exploration. I ate one almost every day. I now realize the error of my ways. So I made a decision. Trip to Italy or not, I would soon be tasting an almond granita.

The recipes I found were all a bit different, but centered around 3 basic components: almonds, sweetener, and a liquid. Some ground their own whole almonds and some purchased almond paste (sweetener and ground almond combined). Sugar was the dominant sweetener. And for liquid, there was milk (from a cow), almond milk (store bought or homemade), or water (still, not sparkling).

I didn't put much thought into the preparation of my almond granita, a quick scan of a handful of recipes and I was off on my adventure. Almonds? Paste. Sweetener? Enough in the paste. Liquid? Milk (whole milk...cow).

It was good. The color was nice. It froze perfectly. It was a sweet treat and we ate every last bit.

But I'd like to continue experimenting. There are some things I'd like to change. It was a little sweet for my taste, so I will use either less almond paste or more milk in version 1.1. Also, I did not strain the mixture prior to freezing. Some do and some don't. I opted for the easy route. I love almonds, why remove the ground almonds from the mixture? I'll tell you why. I wasn't thrilled with the texture of the ground almonds from the paste. The creamy frozen milk melted in my mouth leaving ground almonds behind. It wasn't terrible, but a little disconcerting. Not my thing. I will employ my cheesecloth-lined sieve next time.

You should really try this, your own variation. It is the season.

Almond Granita 1.0
2 large servings or 4 small

1 tube almond paste (7 ounces)
1 kindergarten carton of whole milk (10.66 ounces)

Slice almond paste into 1/2 inch circles and place in small sauce pan. Add milk. Over low heat, never allowing a boil, break up paste with fork to incorporate it into milk. Remove pan from heat. Confirm liquid in pan is deep enough to submerge immersion blender blade. If not, transfer mixture to a smaller pan. Blend until smooth with immersion blender. Cool mixture. Transfer cooled mixture to small baking dish and place in freezer. Lick your cooled saucepan and fork as you would a cake battered bowl and spoon. Check mixture every 30 minutes and rake, smash, and stir with a fork as it begins to freeze. Continue these 30 minute increments until the texture is to your liking. Serve Immediately.

I prefer my granita pure and unadulterated, but I have seen others add whipped cream or crushed amaretti cookies. I've seen cinnamon and lemon juice involved at different stages as well. I'm sure any of these items could prove to be enjoyable. I would not sweeten my whipping cream. This granita is quite sweet on its own.

If you do give the almond granita a go, please return later and share your findings in the comments section.

Stay cool.


  1. made almond granita a few days ago and i added a little orange zest - it turned out great!

  2. Granita virgin here, I have questions: what's the texture like? Is it like a pudding or a sorbet or something similar? If it involves almonds though, I'm all over it...

  3. wsake, I'd like to try orange zest. Nice. Thank you.

    mosey, Texture... It is not at all like pudding, much more like sorbet. Let me know how it goes.

  4. my family is Sicilian and lemon granita is God!!!!! but almonds are the Goddess so this just may please everybody...

    I'm moving to a new house with a TINY freezer.....I'm gonna hafta make this in an ice cube tray.--hahaha!
    and I think I'd strain it too....

  5. mmmm summery treats. no ice-cream maker required! i usually stick to making popsicles, but this sounds simply delicious!

  6. Christine, My mother's ancestors are Sicilian, but most have been in America for too long to help me learn what I need to know about granita making. The Pyrex pan I used to freeze the mixture in this recipe was really small, a 2.75 quart (11 cup) rectangle. Such a pan just might fit in your small space. Okay, it's final, if you are straining, I'm straining.

    Pen and Paperie, Seriously...two ingredients and no ice cream maker. A walk in the park. Enjoy.

  7. Love granita...so refreshing. And almond...sounds so good.
    Just a question; have you ever tried Almond milk?
    I think I might explore making coffee granita... this just sounds too good.
    BTW lurvfs your almondy colors today.

  8. I've never had granita... but two ingredients? Almond flavored? And such a gorgeous milky hue? I might have to hunt down some almond paste!

  9. Camilla, I have not tried almond milk, but I am curious about store-bought and attempting homemade. I think a coffee granita would be very good. I know my husband would like it, he's a coffee ice cream guy too. I love that you notice my colors : )

    Tumbleweed Woman, There are ways to go about it without the almond paste, so if you can't find it, you still have options. I've seen recipes that don't use any almond paste, but begin with whole almonds or almond milk and add sugar. Keep me posted.

  10. I love almond paste, but have never even thought to use it in granita. The creamy-look of this granita is definitely intriguing.

  11. I'm in love with the simplicity of this. Also, if you were to go into an almond phase, I wouldn't mind. Just so you know.

  12. When reading this post about how you like lemon granita and almond granita I just knew I had to share one of my favourite hot summer day drinks which is some parts of Barcelona are called "Palmera".

    It is made by mixing 50/50 "Horchata" and lemon granita (granizado de limon). Horchata is made of "Cyperus esculentus" (also called Chufa Sedge, Yellow Nutsedge, Tigernut Sedge, Earthalmond).

    If you have never tried Horchata I recomend trying on its own first and then try to make a "Palmera".

    If you don't get your hands on spanish "Horchata de chufa" you could perhaps try to mix almond milk and lemon granita...

    Coffe granita is how I "learned" to like coffee :-)

  13. 2 large servings sounds good to me :)

  14. This is something new for me.
    Must try it out.

  15. I wondered about your trip. Next year? and Rome?
    I have been smitten with coffee granita this year, the bar down the road makes a particulary nice one. You are right about the almond texture after the ice has melted - disconcerting - thats a good way to put it. I quite like it though.
    I might try this recipe with milk. I also have another recipe for almond milk with a cheesecloth and then granita, I will let you know.

  16. Oh no! I am so sorry you will not be making your way to Italy, but it sounds like you have managed to recreate a little piece of it in your own kitchen. How perfect.

  17. Sounds like something I must try. I really haven't seen granita in Italy. maybe I'm just not looking for it.

  18. I adore making granita in the summer. My favorite is sweetened espresso with or without milk. But I am definitely putting your almond granita on my to-try list.

  19. sounds delicious. i LOVE how you write recipes, denise.

  20. Carolyn, This photo is of the unfrozen granita. I loved the creamy taste of the mixture before and after freezing.

    Shae, I guess I sort of stumbled into the almond phase with my homemade almond cake, my granita, and then the slice of almond lemon poppy tea cake (yum!) I ordered with my coffee at Tartine this morning.

    life in yonder, I know I love lemon and almond combined because I just tasted a wonderful almond lemon poppy tea cake. I have tried Mexican horchata aguas frescas, but have not tried horchata in any other form. I think I'd be very happy with the Spanish Palmera. Thank you for introducing me! I'll have to try a coffee granita too.

  21. genius. Love it. I used to drink cold almond "orzata" (basically almond syrup with ice water) growing up in Italy. This would be a great alternative.

  22. Tracy, I'm kind of in the mood to eat 2 large servings all by myself, right now.

    alexandria, It was quite good as version 1.0, but I'd still like to make a few changes.

    Haddock, I hope you do. I'd love to know how it works out for you.

    rachel, I would so like to have a glass of prosecco with you in Rome. Maybe next year. Coffee granita is another I'd like to taste. I know I'd love it. I like the idea of making almond milk. Maybe I'll try too...hopefully I can cheat and follow your lead after you do a well-researched post.

    Apples and Butter, It's nowhere near as fun as being in Italy, but it was still an enjoyable experiment.

    Seamus, I don't recall where you were in Italy. I believe the largest concentration of granitas are available in the southern part of Italy. I tasted all of mine on the Aeolian Islands, mostly on Salina.

    Michele, A sweetened espresso granita--mmm mmm.

    shari, Thank you. I do love to think, talk, and write about food. It's inherited. Both of my parents are the same.

    Amelia, I have tried sparkling water with Torani almond syrup and it was pretty good. The almond syrup you grew up with was probably much better. Do you use sparkling or still water to make your orzata?

  23. another great almond recipe, one of my favorits!!!

  24. M., It was a great first try, but I'd like to make a few changes.