Monday, August 10, 2009

Peach Rum Granita

My husband and I are hooked on watching the Next Food Network Star show. The winner was announced a week ago and her first show aired this Sunday. It was admittedly a little uncomfortable to watch. Melissa was pretty frazzled and nervous ... and it showed. But, she'll get better as she settles into her new role. In honor of her victory (which I rooted for from almost the beginning), I decided to try my first granita. She made hers with unsweetened applesauce and a little lemon juice. I went a little fancier and was pleased with the result. It was the perfect cool ending to a scorcher of a day. This recipe easily serves four.

Peach Rum Granita
3 cups peach puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
3/4 tsp rum extract
1/4 tsp salt
6 mint leaves

1. Combine sugar, water and mint leaves (can substitute mint basil) in small saucepan. Bring to boil, then simmer over medium heat for five minutes. Discard mint leaves. Remove pan from heat and cool slightly. This creates a simple syrup.
2. In blender, combine peach puree, lemon juice, rum extract, salt and 1/2 cup simple syrup. Blend and taste. Add more syrup or lemon juice according to sweetness preference.
3. Pour mixture into shallow, freezer-safe container and freeze for four hours, scraping and fluffing the mixture with a fork every 30 minutes or until mixture is completely frozen.

Lessons Learned: This really is a simple, refreshing (and fat free!) dessert for a hot summer night. The mint adds an additional hinted layer of flavor. I debated whether to use almond or rum extract. After smelling and tasting the peach puree, I went with the rum. If you're not a teetotaler like me, you can use the real thing, but you'll obviously need to adjust your liquid content of the simple syrup.
The peach puree is left from when I picked peaches a few weeks ago. To make a puree, skin the peaches, then blend the peaches with a little lemon or lime juice (this helps prevent browning and adds a little acidity to cut the sweetness). I suppose you could use canned peaches, but why? Fresh is so much better.
The amount of simple syrup does not need to be exact. It is to adjust the sweetness and help create a fluffier granita. I started with 1/2 cup of syrup, but ultimately used about 2/3 of a cup.
The recipe could also work with other fruits: watermelon, berries, melons, apricots, pineapple, etc. My son asked if we could do it with grapes. I don't know how well that would work, but I don't see why it wouldn't work with grape juice ... or any other juice for that matter.