As a child, one of the great treats of summer was the ice cream man. In our small town we were fortunate to have two ice cream trucks—The Good Humor man and the no-name ice cream guy. The neighborhood kids were indiscriminate in their tastes, and generic ice cream was just as delicious as name brand. Truly, we could care less; as long as it was cold, and sweet, and delivered by a truck blaring awful circus music, we were ecstatically happy. My mom, as did most moms on our block, kept a jar of change near the front door so that we were ready at a moment’s notice to run headlong into the street once we heard the first few notes from the ice cream truck speakers.
Unlike most of my friends, I was not interested in the creamy or chocolate-y frozen delights. I loved popsicles and frozen fruit bars and Italian ice, and especially those patriotic red, white and blue bomb pops—anything fruity and juicy. Even today, given a choice between a scoop of lemon sorbet, and a scoop of chocolate ice cream, I’ll choose the sorbet.
Since we are in the midst of summer and lovely fresh fruit is so readily available, I’ve been making lots of my own frozen fruit desserts—sorbets, granitas, and ice pops. All of these recipes are dairy-free, so they are suitable for just about anyone including vegans and people with lactose intolerance. They are also cholesterol free, and with the exception of the coconut bars, low in fat. If you’re concerned about the sugar, you can use a no-calorie sweetener in these recipes, and use low-sugar or unsweetened juices.
Granita is a popular frozen Italian dessert made from water or juice, sugar and a flavoring. It is not supposed to smooth like ice cream, but grainier, and almost a little crunchy from the ice crystal. Granitas can be flavored with coffee, tea, liqueur, chocolate, and just about any type of fruit. Some of my favorite flavors are blood orange, melon, lemon, and strawberry. Granitas are so simple to make and require no special equipment other than a freezer, though you do need to devote some time to periodic stirring. Here are three really good granita recipes.
½ cup sugar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups water
½ cup Limoncello (a lemon flavored liqueur)
Combine the water and the sugar in a small saucepan and heat on low until the sugar is dissolved. Do not stir the sugar syrup. Take pan off of the heat. Add Limoncello and the lemon juice. Pour the mixture into a large shallow dish and let cool. Place the mixture in the freezer for 30 miniutes. After 30 minutes, gently stir the mixture with a fork to break up any large ice crystals. Continue stirring every 30 minutes for the next 3-4 hours until fluffy and slushy.
Blueberry Kiwi Granita
1 bag frozen blueberries
3-4 kiwis, peeled and diced
Juice from 1 lemon
¾ cup cranberry juice
Sugar to taste
Puree all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Proceed as in the Limoncello granita recipe.
*This is a Michael Chiarello recipe
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup water
2 cantaloupes, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
Cook the sugar and water together in a small pan over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
Puree the melon in a food processor. Add the sugar syrup and mix well. Proceed as in the Limoncello granita recipe.
A sorbet is similar to a granita in that it is typically dairy freeze. The main difference is in the texture—sorbets are very smooth since they are processed in an ice cream maker. They are also intensely flavored as the recipes omit the extra water used in granitas. Here are a couple very basic sorbet recipes to get you started.
*This is a recipe from Real Simple Magazine
1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, 2 cups fresh lemon juice
In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine the sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pour into a bowl and chill until very cold. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Freeze in an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
*This is a Parade Magazine recipe
2 pints fresh strawberries, or 24 ounces unsweetened strawberries, thawed
1 ¼ cups simple sugar syrup (equal parts sugar and water heated until sugar dissolves)
2 tablespoons orange juice
Puree the strawberries with ¼ cup of the simple syrup in a food processor until smooth. Stir in the remaining syrup and orange juice; transfer to an ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Probably the simplest frozen fruit desserts of all are ice pops; juice or fruit puree frozen in small cups or official ice pop molds. You can buy popsicle sticks and molds online, or at some large grocery stores. Amazon.com has a large selection of molds, in all different shapes—stars, twists, and rockets. There is even a new cookbook devoted entirely to pops: Pops! Icy Treats for Everyone I went on an ice pop making spree this week, and these are the flavors I came up with.
Green Tea Pops with Kiwi
Green tea very slightly sweetened with sugar and slices of peeled kiwi. Pour the tea into the cups or pop molds, add a couple slices of kiwi, and freeze until firm. If you are using cups to make the pops, add the sticks when they are partially frozen. To release the ice pops from the molds, dip them in warm water just for a moment
Lemonade Pops with Whole Grapes
Fill the molds or cups with lemonade, and add whole grapes. Freeze until solid.
Apple Juice Pops with Mango Pieces
Fill molds with apple juice and add pieces of fresh or frozen mango.
Puree fresh or defrosted frozen peaches in a blender. Add a small amount of orange or apple juice, and sugar to taste. Freeze until solid.
Coconut Cranberry Pops
Mix one can of coconut milk with the juice of 1 lime, and sugar to taste. Fill your mold or cups half full. Freeze. Fill the cups or molds the rest of the way with cranberry juice and refreeze.
I hope I’ve inspired you to whip up some wonderful frozen fruit treats of your own. They are easy to make, delicious, and a great way to take advantage of all the gorgeous fruit available now.
If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me.