Friday, May 13, 2011

Strawberry Citrus and Champagne Granita

As the weather warms up and strawberries appear in greater abundance, I’ve dug up a recipe for a dessert from an old issue of Bon Appetit that is both fruity and cool.

It all starts with a granita made from strawberries that are puréed and then supremely perked up with grapefruit and lemon juice, simple syrup and champagne. Simple and not too sweet, this is a very refreshing blast of bright citrus. The granita is served over strawberries that are macerated in sugar and Grand Marnier, a combination found in the old classic, Strawberries Romanoff, a simple concoction of strawberries steeped in orange liqueur and topped with whipped cream. That idea was first put together by the late 18th – early 19th century French pastry chef Marie Antoine Carême, who prepared desserts for the Russian Tsar Nicholas I, a member of the Romanoff dynasty.

But, for now, let's keep it simple. This lush orange-blessed fruit and slushy ice that soon melts on your plate create a saucy and refreshing dessert, light and bright, easy and fresh.

Bench notes:
- For the absolute best flavor, use fresh grapefruit and lemon juice for the granita. Although there is no salt in this recipe, I added a few grains to taste because citrus craves salt to really heighten it's full flavor.
- Although not in the recipe, I strained the granita to eliminate the seeds and any fruit that didn't fully purée.
- When macerating the strawberries, use all the sugar, which is there to balance the tartness of the granita.
- I topped the dessert with a little bit of sweetened whipped cream just to add a little gooeyness to the whole thing. Totally optional.
- For another lovely granita fruit dessert, try Raspberries with Sabayon and Hibiscus Granita or Peaches with Honey Sabayon and Chamomile Granita.

Strawberry Citrus and Champagne Granita
adapted from Bon Appétit
yield: Make 6 servings

1 C sugar, divided
3/4 C water
1 1/2 lbs large ripe strawberries
1 1/2 C fresh grapefruit juice
1 1/2 C dry champagne
1/2 C fresh lemon juice
1/4 C Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cool.

Puree enough strawberries to produce 1/2 cup of puree. Pour the puree into a bowl and whisk in the grapefruit juice, champagne, lemon juice and sugar syrup. Strain the mixture into a shallow pan or container. Freeze until mixture begins to form ice crystals and the texture is slushy. Take a fork and scrape to form clumps of granita. Freeze again until the mixture is a bit more solidified, about 3 – 4 hours, scraping with a fork every now and then to break it up and form ice flakes. The granita can be prepared up to 2 days ahead of time and kept in the freezer.

Up to 30 minutes before serving, slice remaining strawberries into a bowl and toss with remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup Grand Marnier.

To serve, distribute the sliced strawberries among 6 dishes or glasses. Scrape granita again to reform fresh slushy ice flakes. Top the berries with granita and serve immediately.


A Plum By Any Other Name said...

Love that you whipped out Careme in this post.

I was just talking about combining strawberries and some bubbly into a frozen confection earlier today.

You know what they say about great minds ... apparently they are nerdy when it comes to French gastronomy. Oh yes, and they also like strawberries and champagne. ;)

pastry studio said...

Plum, I'm a total pastry nerd, I confess. But it's a great day to experience both strawberries and champagne, that's for sure!!

CookiePie said...

Lovely lovely lovely! So pretty, and the flavors sound so delicious!

Alia Dalwai said...

Wow!! Thats all I can say!

Alia from

Luv'n Spoonfuls said...

Can't wait to try this method on all sorts of spring fruit combos...thanks for providing a beautiful and delicious recipe once again! I'd swear I could stick a spoon into my screen and just sneak a little taste (your pictures are that good! ;p

Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood said...

Strawberries - fantastic timing - they are just coming into season. Now all I need is a bottle of champagne!

Anonymous said...

Lovely composition! I love strawberries in red wine and vanilla, this sounds even better!

I just visited the lovely Chocolaterie St. Anna in Heidelberg, where they make the best ice creams I have ever eaten. This time they had an amazing white chocolate ice cream with black and green olives - who could have guessed it is such a lovely combination? I would so much love to try to reconstruct it, but I am afraid I won't meet the taste I have in my mind... perhaps you would like to have it as an idea in the back of your mind to give a try perhaps sometime in the future?