Do you ever catch sight of yourself reflected in a mirror or shop window and think: “Oh my word, I look exactly like my Aunty Betty!”, or words to that effect? I don’t even have to look as far into the family tree as an aunty or a distant cousin: I am the spitting image of my late mother. This is a good thing and a bad thing – the slim wrists and the good cheeekbones are grand; the clunky ankles and child-bearing hips not so much! And the same can be said for other traits beyind the physical – our similar short tempers, our shared love of poetry, and our tendency to fill our freezers as if we are preparing for some sort of protracted siege. This is the reason I never make ice cream. As soon as the recipe talks about putting your giant stainless steel mixing bowl in the freezer I spend approximately three seconds visualising my freezer, then start laughing hysterically, take my medication and put the book away. Clearly these people have never seen the state of a Horak freezer.
It’s a good thing, then, that ice cream is not the only frozen dessert. In fact, once you start looking, there is a plethora of frozen desserts available, each with subtly different ingredients and methods. If, like me, you are somewhat vague about the differences, then this is for you:
COOKSISTER’S FROZEN DESSERTS FIELD GUIDE
Ice cream – a frozen dessert made with cream, milk and flavourings, and whipped repeatedly during freezing in order to add air and threfore lightness. The fat content ranges between 10% and 15%. French-style ice cream contains whole eggs as part of the custard that flavours the ice cream, while American-style ice cream contains either egg white only, or no eggs,
Gelato – a frozen dessert made with cream but not whipped as much to increase the air volume – ice-cream can include 60% air while gelato only includes 20% air. Gelato is therefore a similar but more dense product to ice cream.
Semifreddo – a simpler frozen dessert made of whipped cream and a flavouring like a fruit puree or chocolate. It is not whipped again after freezing and because it contains no water it does not freeze as solidly as ice-cream.
Kulfi - a traditional Indian frozen dessert made only with cooked milk, sugar and flavouring – it contains no egg and is not whipped, so it has a heavier texture than ice cream.
Sorbet – a frozen dessert that is made from fruit purée and liquid but no milk or dairy products. Sorbet is repeatedly whipped to lighten and smooth its texture.
Granita – a frozen dessert similar to a sorbet and and containing no milk. It is not whipped and ice crystals are allowed form. It therefore has a more granular appearance, and a crunchy texture.
Because a granita does not require me to own an ice-cream maker and because it gets frozen in a shallow pan rather than a big bowl, it gets my vote every time. I mean, even I can find space for a flattish pan in my chaotic freezer! This particular granita is super-easy to make and has a deliciously grown-up citrussy flavour. If you want it non-alcoholic, use more grapefruit juice instead of the Campari – but I can highly recommend the alcoholic version!
RUBY GRAPEFRUIT AND CAMPARI GRANITA (makes about 1.5 litres)
290ml white granulated sugar
750ml fresh ruby grapefruit juice with some pulp (juice of abotu 4 grapefruit)
sprigs of mint to garnish
Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, strring until the sugar is dissolved. Allow the syrup to cool for 5-10 minutes, then stir in the juice and Campari and freeze the mixture in a shallow metal pan. Remove from freezer, stir and crush lumps with a fork every 30 minutes for 3-4 hours. The mixture should be firm but not frozen solid. When you are ready to serve, scrape the granita up with a fork to create grainy crystals and granules. Scoop into pretty chilled glasses and serve garnished wth fresh mint.