Bright, tart, a bit sweet, and perfect for a light dessert or end-of-meal palate cleanser (depending on how sweet you make it), lemon mint granita is about as easy as dessert making gets, though because not many people make it, it is definitely a special treat. Its icy texture clean flavor make it a warm-weather favorite, and because most of the time spent making this is hands-off, you can spend your time doing more important things like hanging out with your family and friends in the backyard.
Recipe notes: As is customary on this site, this recipe can be used as a template for dozens of other granitas. Ideas? Swap the lemon juice for lime juice, orange juice, or grapefruit juice. Nix the mint and try another herb, or try this whole thing with strawberries and black pepper instead of lemon and mint. The sugar level is also customizable- I like to make this with very little sugar, to the point that it is bracingly tart, but the amounts given here strike more of a sweet/tart balance. Just remember that the frozen granita won’t taste quite as sweet as the unfrozen mixture- cold has a tendency to downplay sweetness- so when you taste the mixture before freezing, make it just a hair sweeter than you want the final product to be. Lastly, if you want to skip the whole scraping process detailed below and make this even more hassle-free, you can make the mixture as written and then just pour it into popsicle molds for ice pops, then freeze as you usually would.
2 cups water
1 small bunch mint
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 – 3/4 cup coconut or white sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1. In a small pot, bring the water, mint, lemon zest, and sugar to a simmer. Stir to let the sugar dissolve, then remove from heat and let steep for half an hour.
2. Add the lemon juice to the pot and stir. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and into a glass baking dish. The size of the dish isn’t terribly important, but know that the deeper and smaller the dish is, the longer it will take to freeze the granita. I like to freeze mine in a 2 quart baking dish.
3. Place the baking dish, uncovered, in the freezer. After an hour, use a fork to stir the granita, breaking up the ice crystals and making sure to pay attention to the ice around the edges. Do this once every hour or two until the granita is firm enough that you can scrape the fork tines across the surface, creating shards of ice. Scrape until all of the ice is broken into shards. Serve in bowls as is, or in hollowed lemons as pictured.