Aperol Granita

3 cooling granita recipes from cult London gelato shop, Gelupo

Posted by for Food and Drink

The perfect afternoon cooler on a hot day, granita is the frozen treat that makes light work of dessert — no ice cream maker necessary. 

And just like that, the sun came out of hibernation, and we soaked up the first rays in a state of childlike wonder. We may not have our European minibreaks yet, but temperatures in some parts of the UK are hotter than Madrid – and yes, we intend to enjoy every glorious minute of it.

Naturally, this taste of early summer also reminds us that we need a plentiful supply of frozen treats. Cue a sprint to the local supermarket, only to discover that everyone else has got to the ice cream aisle first, leaving one battered, half-empty box behind. 

Gelupo Gelato
Gelupo Gelato: A Delectable Palette Of Ice Cream Recipes by Jacob Kennedy

There is, happily, a quick fix at hand: granita. A refreshingly crunchy Italian dessert made from fresh fruit and water, granita is blended, frozen and flaked with a fork until it resembles snowy ice crystals in a flavoured syrup. The sugar is important: not only does it make the mixture wonderfully sweet, but it keeps it in a semi-liquid state when it’s in the freezer – a refined slushie, if you will.

Not only is granita a cinch to make by hand, but as  Jacob Kennedy – owner of cult Soho gelato shop Gelupo – explains in his new cookbook Gelupo Gelato, it allows for plenty of experimentation. Once you’ve mastered the method, you can remix the recipe with any fruit is in season – and the serving possibilities are equally as delicious, whether you add a scoop of gelato, a splash of alcohol or spoonful of whipped cream. With that in mind, we’ve a selection of delicious granita recipes, courtesy of Kennedy, to share.

For an elegant dessert that conjures the flavours of British summertime, serve up the elderflower, cucumber and gin granita. The strawberry granita, meanwhile, is a great way to utilise seasonal berries just in time for Wimbledon. And come cocktail hour, the Aperol granita is like a burst of Sicilian sunshine. Trust us: you’ll definitely want a second helping.

Elderflower, cucumber and gin granita

Elderflower, Cucumber and Gin Granita
Granita recipes: elderflower, cucumber and gin granita

Jacob says: “This is a very English granita, if such a thing is not contradictory – three flavours that, above all, scream of Queen and country. It would be suitable alongside finger sandwiches and cream tea, and probably has no place in these pages, but here you have it.”

Makes about 1 litre/serves 5–8

Ingredients

For the elderflower, cucumber and gin granita

  • 4 large cucumbers
  • 100ml gin
  • 75ml elderflower cordial 
  • 180g caster sugar
  • Possibly a little water

Method

Juice the cucumbers (with their skins): if you have a juicer, so much the better. If not, grate them finely or purée them in a food processor, then strain through a sieve or muslin into a measuring jug, twisting and squeezing hard to extract all the juice.

Stir together the cucumber juice with the gin, elderflower cordial and sugar until the sugar has dissolved.

Check the volume is a litre – if it’s short, make it up with water.

Transfer the mixture to a wide dish and put it in the freezer. Once it starts to freeze at the edges, every 10–15 minutes stir it with a fork or whisk it, until the mixture is almost completely frozen and icy (this will take a long time – perhaps 4 hours). It is ready to serve in this slightly wet, slushy state.

To keep it longer, let it freeze solid, then before serving take it out to thaw for 20 minutes or so, breaking it up with a fork. (Chill your serving glasses for at least 20 minutes in the freezer before you serve.)

Strawberry granita

Jacob says: “Strawberries are very English – but they are also very Roman, being grown extensively on the hills inside the extinct crater of Lake Nemi, next to the Pope’s summer residence near Ciampino airport. Strawberry granita is just yummy – especially topped with billowing whipped cream. You can make it the conventional way (blend the ingredients together, then freeze as per any other granita), but here is another path: a 5-minute cheat’s granita.”

Makes about 800ml/serves 4–6

Ingredients

For the strawberry granita

  • 500g frozen strawberries
  • 250ml chilled water
  • 100g caster sugar

To serve (optional)

  • 150ml whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks with 1 tablespoon caster sugar

Method

Chill your serving glasses for at least 20 minutes in the freezer before you begin.

Put the frozen strawberries, water and sugar in a blender and blend to a slushy consistency.

Serve straight away in the frozen glasses, topped with the sweetened whipped cream, if you like.

Aperol granita

Aperol Granita
Granita recipes: Aperol granita

Jacob says: “Aperitivo time – and the omnipresent spritz – is the Veneto’s gift to the world. You can make a great spritz with Aperol (the lurid orange one) or campari, or perhaps best with select. And every spritz has its corresponding granita – just use the recipe below and substitute the aperitivo of your choosing.”

Makes about 1 litre/serves 5–8

Ingredients

For the Aperol granita

  • 500ml prosecco (or dry white wine)
  • 300ml Aperol
  • 200ml water
  • 100g caster sugar

Method

In a bowl, stir all the ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved.

Transfer the mixture to a wide dish and put it in the freezer. Once it starts to freeze at the edges, every 10–15 minutes stir it with a fork or whisk it, until the mixture is almost completely frozen and icy (this will take a long time – perhaps 4 hours). It is ready to serve in this slightly wet, slushy state.

To keep it longer, let it freeze solid, then before serving take it out to thaw for 20 minutes or so, breaking it up with a fork. (Chill your serving glasses for at least 20 minutes in the freezer before you serve.)

Variations

Substitute campari or aperitivo select for the Aperol.

Substitute white port, red ruby port or medium sherry for the Aperol and then also replace the prosecco with tonic water.

Replace both the Aperol and prosecco with sparkling moscato d’asti.

Gelupo Gelato: A Delectable Palette Of Ice Cream Recipes by Jacob Kennedy (£14.99, Bloomsbury Publishing), is out now

Photography: Steve Joyce, illustrations by Marta Andren for Here Design.

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.