Ruby grapefruit & Campari granita

Ruby grapefruit & Campari granita © J Horak-Druiff 2011

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:


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!





290ml white granulated sugar
250ml water
750ml fresh ruby grapefruit juice with some pulp (juice of abotu 4 grapefruit)
75ml Campari
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.

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  1. says

    Oh now see this is something I will make for sure. I love love love Ruby red grapefruit but am just not all that into ice creams and gelatos etc. This, with the Campari, sounds very interesting. We had a palate cleanser – a gooseberry granita, as one of the little pauses for our wedding dinner menu and it was very tasty. We have freezer problems too Jeanne….but last year one of our friends, that moved away, donated their smallish chest freezer to the cause and now we have lots of space……oh. What to do…

  2. says

    Fabulous recipe! A drink in dessert form is okay by me! I have long wanted to start making granitàs but it is less the chaotic state of my freezer as much as it is the damn size of French freezers! You would think they never froze anything! I dream of a freezer big enough to hold trays for 3 different flavors of granita. And this one? JP would love it!

  3. says

    Die granita lyk baie aanloklik! ons het vanaand ‘n soort van ‘n granita gehad 😉 Dit het gesneeu by ons en ek het vars sneeu geskep en suurlemoen-stroop daaroor gegooi – was nou regtig iets besonders vir die geleentheid

  4. says

    This looks oh so elegant! From your descriptions I’ve discovered that my orange sorbet is more like a granita, so maybe I will re-christen it! I haven’t had campari in years, but I’m sorely tempted to go out searching for some now!

  5. says

    Just what the doctor ordered for this crazy weather we’ve been having in Cape Town! And ruby grapefruits so beautiful right now. *rushes off to make granita*

  6. says

    I was slumped at my desk with a cup of tea, trying to start work, when I saw your post. Reading about your divine-looking granita was the equivalent of a walk in the sun. I now feel twice as awake as I did before… (but no less inclined to start work unfortunately)

  7. says

    Looks so refreshing!! Ha my freezer is also jam-packed in order to fill any free space that may be available…I really will have to start clearing out some room because I would love to make this!

  8. says

    @Mona – a chest freezer. Sigh. I remember having those in the halcyon days of my childhood!! This granita really is superb – a dessert for people who don’t like desserts, and an awesome between-course palate cleanser. Love the gooseberry granita idea!
    @Sylvie – a distant cousin! LOL! I love it. Would love a self-freezing ice-cream maker but think hubby might lose the plot if I colonise any more counterspace!
    @youngandfoodish – be warned, it is addictive!!
    @Sanjeeta – the colour is great, isn’t it?? Almost too pretty to eat!
    @Jamie – LOL, seems that i am not alone in my freezer issues! And I am sure JP will love it: Nick is not a dessert person at all and HE loved it 😉
    @Marietjie & Jaco – man dit klink nou soos iets anders! Het julle sneeu fotos op FB gesien – fantasties! As ons gaan ski gebruik ons dikwels vars sneeu i.p.v. ys in ons whisky!!
    @Kit – it’s like when I found out my chicken liver starter was more of a terrine than a pate – total rebranding 😉 And now you got me thinking of an orange and Cointreau granita…!
    @Livetoeat – yo can almost convince yourself that this is healthy, what with the no fat and all that vitamin C 😉
    @CherylK – I urge you to try it. One of the best things I’ve made this year…
    @Firefly – but the red ones are SO much sweeter! And anyway, you can just make this with extra sugar syrup :)
    @Eggs on the Roof – trust me, this granita wakes up your palate and your body follws suit (till the Campari kicks in, that is!). Sorry I culd not add an extra motivational ingredient to help with the work 😉
    @Jenn – oh it’s worth the ball-ache of clearing out the freezer – and it’s gluten-free! Woo hoo!
    @HungryRabbit – heatwave – are you trying to make me jealous?! Like I sad, invite me over and I will make you a bucket of this ;o)
    @Rosa – thanks! The gorgeous colours made it an easy job to get good pics :)

  9. says

    Aaaah – finally I too know the difference between ice cream and gelato. I knew I preferred gelato, but didn’t quite know why and felt kinda stupid for asking. 😉
    Stunning pics – I’ll definitely be making this come summer.

  10. says

    My kind of frozen treat. I also don’t have either the ice cream maker or the space in the freezer. Also, I’m not sure I would have the willpower to resist large batches of home-made ice cream…. This I could just eat…

  11. says

    I’m forwarding your iced dessert field guide to J- he has official title of the Ice cream Monster. Ice cream makers are disastrously expensive here. I died a mini death when Jasmine said I could pick up a relatively good one in Italy for 50 euro!!! So, granita it will be and thank goodness you’re not stirring-stirring-stirring. Lovely pics Now, summer…

  12. says

    Ah yes those mirror windows… my horror… I always think my behind looks about twice the size (I hope) it actually is… :) That granita looks delicious. WHile I love all icecreams I am a fan of the less creamy kinds and this will go in nicely!