I mentioned screw pine extract (kewra) a few weeks back and its intoxicating, floral perfume. When I spotted some beautiful rhubarb at the greenmarket, I just knew it was a match made in heaven. As the weather has been warming up, I thought a spiked granita would be a great way to showcase both of the flavors.
Granitas are awesome because they are great for lazy cooking days. They require so little – water or juice, fruit or another base ingredient, sugar, any other fun items you want to throw in, and a freezer. No ice cream maker is necessary, and in a few hours, you have a lovely frozen treat. I added a bit of vodka to make mine, but it can totally be left out for a kid-friendly/nonalcoholic version.
Screw pine, which is used in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking, is found in both sweet and savoury dishes. When sweet, the dish is often a milk-based dessert – a fantastic way to feature the delicious scent. But, truthfully, it’s really complimentary to fruits and balanced the tartness of the seasonal rhubarb here perfectly.
Here, I cooked the rhubarb down with some sugar and lemon juice, puréed, strained, and added the kewra and vodka. Ridiculously easy. A few hours of freezing and scraping with a fork, and the granita was complete – crunchy, melt-on-your-tongue ice, sweet, tart and floral. Enjoy!
Serves 6 to 8
3 ½ cups rhubarb, cut into ½” pieces (approximately 5 to 6 stalks)
2 ½ cups water
1 cup sugar
generous squeeze of lemon juice
3 tbsps screw pine extract
¼ cup vodka (completely optional but nice)
In a medium pot, add rhubarb, water, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring up to a simmer and simmer covered for 3 to 5 minutes until rhubarb basically falls apart.
Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. (Be careful when blending hot items! Hold down the top with a towel.) Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer (cheesecloth-lined preferably) in a bowl. Add screw pine extract and vodka, if using.
Transfer mixture to a metal baking dish – I used a 12”x14.5”x2.5 inch lasagna pan – and place uncovered in the freezer. Remove after an hour and use a fork to scrape / disrupt the ice crystals. Repeat process every 45 minutes for the next 3 or 4 hours until completely frozen and desired texture.
Cover with plastic wrap if not serving immediately.