It's that time of year when ice cream cravings pop up with sudden urgency. And with fresh berries at the farmers' market, who can resist coming up with their own flavor? However, after a major kitchen appliance purge, the last thing I wanted to do was buy another gadget to take up space. Inspired by the Ciao Bella cookbook, I created a rich, not too sweet, grown up granita with red wine and blackberries, all without an ice cream maker.
This recipe totally takes care of ice cream maker envy. A few hours in the freezer and you'll be ready to serve this grown up version of shaved ice. The rich colors and tastes make for a surprisingly light and not overly sweet dessert.
It's important not to skip stirring the granita while it's freezing. I made the mistake of skipping a few stirs and the entire mixture froze into one hard slab. If this happens to you, just let the granita (or purple slab of ice) thaw a bit, stir, and restart the freezing process. Once frozen, the delicate ice crystals keep very well.
2 cups Cabernet or other red wine
6 cups blackberries
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Heat cabernet in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid has reduced by half. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cold, at least one hour.
Purée blackberries and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth. Pour through a fine mesh strainer. Discard seeds and solids. Add chilled wine and sugar to blackberry mixture and whisk until sugar is dissolved.
Pour mixture into a 9 x 12-inch baking dish and place in freezer. If substituting another container, be sure it's shallow enough to allow granita to freeze in a reasonable amount of time.
Freeze granita at least 4 hours, stirring with a fork every 45 minutes to break up ice crystals. Granita should be free of large ice chunks and resemble shaved ice.
(Images: Stephanie Barlow)