Jennifer Adams, Palate-to-Pen
Although a slew of days may speak otherwise, summer has not bowed out, yet. Autumn, however, is poking her eager head out from behind the curtain. Sneaking huffs of chilly breezes and winks of earlier evening breaks at an audience wading in denial.
I too am among the reluctant to witness her presence. Feet are clad in unwavering sandals. Sweaters drape my office chair instead of my shoulders during the morning commute. Lattes are iced, even though they are pumpkin spiced.
Soon, I may no longer shrug a cold shoulder her way. Labor Day weekend has arrived. Within weeks, summer will exit stage left. I refuse to waste precious moments grumbling about a summer spent hidden from an onslaught of rain. A favorable forecast awaits. Finally.
I ransacked recipes to find a beverage with which to properly toast both a farewell and a welcome back to these two seasons. In Tyler Florence’s Tyler’s Ultimate cookbook, I stumbled upon a recipe that’s both flavored with autumn’s spiced musings and playfully cool for summer’s final spell. Sangria Granita. I am spellbound.
I don’t trust my beloved sangria in the hands of just anyone. The ever-dependable Tyler Florence, however, is my go-to-Chef for favorite comfort foods adorned with a pinch of panache. This recipe warms with whiffs of spice and nose-tingling citrus tang while simmering.
After a freeze, ruby red wine crystals glisten a variety of gorgeous hues.
For the base wine, I pour an organic Malbec, whose tasting notes are posted on my blog, Palate-to-Pen. Its dark berry and mulling spiced flavors are a stellar pair for the granita mixture.
As I find the crimson freckles of sweet pluots irresistible, I opt for them instead of peaches.
I also am smitten by smooth, slim New Zealand kiwifruit with their fuzzy, pinched pouts and vibrant yellow flesh.
For a sweeter taste and quicker dissolve, I sprinkle superfine caster sugar over the fruit instead of granulated sugar. I also toss the fruit in Triple Sec instead of Cointreau, simply because that’s what is on our shelf.
As a fanciful jar of Moroccan Mace, nutmeg’s sheath, rests unopened beside the cinnamon and cloves, this recipe proves a clever debut.
Each bite of Sangria Granita glides for a brisk yet bountiful taste before softly melting a pool of spiced wine about the fruit I choose to grace each spoonful. This recipe for sangria-turned-granita knocks my sandals off (remember, no socks, just yet…).
Sangria Granita with Cold Spiked Fruit
adapted from Tyler Florence’s Tyler’s Ultimate cookbook
Serves 6 to 8
1 bottle 750 ml red wine (Yellow+Blue 2008 Malbec – a liter pak spares a glass for sipping while cooking…)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Triple Sec
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 peels of Moroccan Mace
juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 orange, reserve squeezed halves
Cold Spiked Fruit
2 pluots, pitted and sliced
2 New Zealand kiwifruit, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 pint blueberries
1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved
1/2 cup Triple Sec
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Fresh mint for garnish, optional
For the granita, combine the wine, sugar, Triple Sec and spices in a large saucepan. Whisk in the juices. Add the squeezed halves. Warm the mixture over a medium heat for 5 minutes. As the wine simmers, dissolve the pinked sugar with a stir of the whisk. The orange and lemon halves nod like Hungry Hippos and citrus flecks scatter like dandelion snow across the surface.
Remove from heat and carefully strain the mixture into a large bowl. Set on a towel in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes. Retrieve the cooled mixture from the fridge and pour into a shallow lasagna pan. Rest pan in the freezer overnight.
The next morning, remove the pan from the freezer. Glide a chopstick around the edge of the pan, separating the frozen kaleidoscope of wine from the pan’s edge. Work your way toward the middle, scraping until all of the ice is separated and aerated. Return the pan to the freezer for 3 to 4 more hours.
Two hours before the you remove the mixture from the freezer, in a large bowl, toss together the pluots, kiwifruit, blueberries and strawberries. Pour the Triple Sec and Caster sugar over the fruit and toss to coat evenly. Secure a sheet of saran wrap over the bowl and place in the freezer. Remove both the mixture and the fruit from the freezer after two hours.
To serve, place the frozen fruit “ice cubes” in the bottom of a glass and top with spoonfuls of granita. You may also garnish with fresh mint.