A few minutes after my mother asked me to come up with a gluten-free stuffing recipe for Christmas (I cooked a rather scrumptious vegan apple, sage, and chestnut stuffing, recipe here), she stood up straight and said:
“And now at last it comes time for you to make a dessert alternative to the Christmas Pudding! And it shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as -”
Wait, no. That wasn’t my mother. That was Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings.
(Oh heavens yes, I’m a bit of a literature geek. Did you know I’ve also read the Little House on the Prairie series so many times that I can all but recite entire chapters just by seeing their illustrations? Poor Pa when he thought an old tree trunk was a bear and ran at it shouting and waving his gun…)
Back to reality: when my mother asked me to make a dessert for the [sane] people in my family who can’t/won’t eat Christmas Pudding, I did a little happy dance. No longer would I have to drown said pudding in copious amounts of custard just so I could swallow and count myself sweet-sated! No longer would I have to struggle to understand how anyone could enjoy the taste of mixed peel!
Instead, I could make a dessert that was vibrant, perfect for the Australian summer, sweet without being cloyingly so, completely new to me, and which involved one of my favourite dessert ingredients: water.
I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I mean raspberries.
Before making this recipe, I’d never before attempted granita (or ice cream or sorbet, for that matter). I was, in fact, quite nervous about whether or not it would work, particularly when the original recipe seemed to have too high a water-to-berry ratio, and also didn’t specify quite how much to cook the syrup down.
So I boiled the bezonkers out of the syrup. And lo! The granita was heavenly. Sweet and strong in raspberry flavour, refreshing and light, and utterly gorgeous.
Kind of like Galadriel.
Adapted from Joy the Baker
- 3 cups water
- 2/3 cup caster sugar
- 2 heaped cups frozen raspberries, unthawed (about 240g)
- juice of 1 lime (I got about 50ml)
- 2 teaspoons vodka (optional)
- fresh mint, to garnish
1. In a medium saucepan, heat water and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add the raspberries and bring to the boil, then keep the syrup at a high simmer for about 10 minutes.
2. Remove half of the micture to a blender and puree. Place a fine mesh strainer over the original saucepan and pour the puree through it, so that the liquid and juice rejoin their pals and the seeds are left in the strainer (see note below).
3. Add the lime juice and vodka. (The vodka prevents the mixture from freezing completely solid.)
4. Pour the mixture into a shallow 9×13-inch pan and place in the freezer. Every 30 minutes for the next three hours, scrape any crystals that have formed at the edge of the pan into the centre. As the mixture freezes more and more, don’t hesitate to seriously break/crush/smooth it up and out. Be brutal – what doesn’t kill the granita makes it stronger.
5. (At this point, I left the granita overnight, then served it for the lunch the next day.) Scoop into dainty little cocktail-esque glasses, garnish with mint, and crow over how deliciously tasty your dessert is when compared to… well, I’ll stop there, because I know a lot of people really do like Christmas Pudding. And I like to keep things civil.
Note: After I’d strained all the raspberry seeds from the puree, I decided to see what the seeds tasted like. OHMYGOSHOMGPOWKABOOMWIZZEE! Why has no one managed to market raspberry seeds? Eating the strained seeds was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – they were nutty whilst also enveloped in the sweetness of the clinging raspberry sorbet mixture. Seriously delicious. I want more right now, actually.
And I really don’t mind if, by admitting this, I’m coming across as rather odd. After all, I’ve already quoted Tolkien. It’s all uphill from there, surely?