A Refreshing Dessert
As Thomas Hyll wrote in his cookbook of 1593, “…[strawberries] are much eaten at all men’s tables with wine and sugar.” While cream is the traditional English accompaniment, elsewhere in Europe crème fraîche, or sour cream, is preferred. In Italy, red wine and sugar seems to be everywhere. I developed this recipe after years of enjoying wild berries served in this fashion at Trattoria Sostanza in Florence. Top the macerated berries with the frozen granita.
Strawberry-Champagne Granita with Macerated Berries
- 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- One 750-milliliter bottle chilled rosé Champagne
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 quarts freshly picked strawberries, hulled and washed
- One 750-milliliter bottle dry red Italian wine (a good Chianti works well)
- 2/3 cup sugar, or more or less to taste
- Zest of 1 orange, taken off the fruit with a ‘strip zester,’ making long strips of zest about a 1/16-inch wide.
- Juice of 1 orange
- 1 piece cinnamon
- 4 cloves
- 1 handful of fresh mint sprigs secured with string
In a medium saucepan, combine half of the strawberries with the sugar and 1/3 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Transfer the strawberry mixture to a food processor. Add the remaining strawberries and puree until smooth.
Strain the puree through a fine sieve set over a large bowl. Add the Champagne and lemon juice and mix well. Pour the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch glass or stainless steel baking dish.
Freeze the granita for 2 hours. Scrape the frozen edges into the center. Freeze for another 3 hours, scraping hourly, until the granita is icy and flaky. Freeze for 8 hours or overnight. Scrape the granita into bowls and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The granita can be frozen for 4 days.
Place the wine in a saucepan along with the juice, cinnamon, cloves and sugar. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and add mint, stirring once. Let rest for 1 hour to cool.
Put the berries and zest in a large bowl. Add the wine mixture and refrigerate for 4 hours minimum.
Divide the berries into large wine glasses. Spoon wine over the berries and serve with strawberry-champagne granita.
Originally published in Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures on foodandwine.com.
Photograph by Kate N.G. Sommers.