I've recently been lamenting the closing of our neighborhood water ice shop. It might not sound like a big deal, but I live in Arizona where water ice (Italian Ice) is a rarity. Everywhere I go it's either shaved ice, snow cones, or gelato, but I digress.
I'd been reading on NPR's website about how easy it is to make granita lately, which is pretty much the water ice that I'm used to (although water ice tends to be finer grained, but that's a matter of technique, not ingredients), so I decided that it was finally time to give it a try.
I was originally just going to try one of the recipes from the website, but while I was out in my yard, I noticed that our mint plant was looking like it could use a trim, so it dawned on me that I could probably take what I had learned from the article and concoct a Mojito granita, so that's what I set off to do.
Here's the basic recipe I came up with:
Start by combining the sugar and water in a sauce pan and bringing to a rolling boil. Continue to boil 5 minutes while stirring the syrup.
Remove the simple syrup from the stove and add the three mint sprigs. Allow to steep for about 5 minutes, then discard the mint sprigs and continue to allow to cool.
In the meantime, measure out 1/2 cup of rum.
Add 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice and set aside.
Next, chop the fresh mint until you have about 2 tbsp. A little extra never hurt anyone.
Once the simple syrup has completely cooled, pour it in a metal (preferred) or glass 13x9 inch baking dish/pan. Add the lime juice, rum, and chopped mint. Stir to combine.
Place the 13x9 pan in the freezer. Set a timer for 40 minutes. When it goes off, whisk (or stir with a fork).
You'll need to repeat this every 40 minutes or so for several hours until the pan is full of loose, well defined crystals.
This will take anywhere from 4-8 hours.
Here's the granita after a few hours. Notice how much thicker it is and that there are definite crystals forming.
When the granita is completely done freezing, it should be comprised of loose crystals and looks something like this:
Serve the granita in chilled glasses. All I had handy were some double old-fashioned glasses, but they worked fine.
You should note that this recipe has alcohol in it, which lowers the freezing point of the mix. If you omit the alcohol, add an equivalent about of water and change the stir time to every 30 minutes to keep large clumps from forming.
The consistency of my final product was almost snow like. I probably could have packed it tightly and put it back in the freezer to get it closer to the water ice consistency I'm used to. I also heard that using a large metal spoon to scrape the ice as it freezes instead of stirring helps to produce smaller crystals. I may try that next time. Regardless, the granita turned out to be really great. It was light, refreshing, and tasted just like its namesake cocktail.