For Father’s Day I wanted a light refreshing dessert and when I came across this recipe on Smitten Kitchen I knew this would be perfect! Even better, Deb suggested using limoncello which my mom just happens to make and store in our freezer!
The combination of lemon and mint, with a slight kick from the limoncello (I only used a 1/2 cup because I wanted to make sure that the granita would freeze properly) is incredibly refreshing and perfect on a summer night, even if it isn’t so warm out. Using the hollowed out lemons makes for a lovely presentation and it is pretty easy if you employ both a grapefruit knife (bent, serrated blade) and a grapefruit spoon (serrated tip) to completely clean out the lemon.
The freshness of the mint and the tartness of the lemon all brought together with a little liquer and a little sugar, ugh, to die for! So, without further ado:
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup limoncello
4 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
30 mint leaves (a handful)
1) Slice the tops off the lemons (and a little bit off the bottom so they sit up for serving) and remove all of the pulp and pith from the inside using a grapefruit knife for the primary work and a grapefruit spoon for all the clean up. Do this over a bowl so as to lose as little juice as possible. If you are using the empty lemon shells for serving: place them in the freezer so they can firm up.
2) Pluck 30 or so mint leaves and throw them and the lemon innards into a blender and blend it within an inch of its life (about 1 minute). You want it to be so that the mint is tiny little flecks. Let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes so that the flavors can meld.
3) Pour the lemon-mint puree into a fine mesh sieve and extract as much liquid out of it as possible. You don’t want to have a chunky granita, so it’s ok if a little mint gets through, but don’t let anything else pass you by!
4) Add to the lemon-mint juice the water and limoncello (if you’re using it). Mix and add sugar 1 TBS at a time until you reach the desired sweetness.
5) Pour this wonderful mixture into a baking pan, making sure that the liquid doesn’t stand more than 1 inch deep (so that it doesn’t take too long to freeze).
6) Put the pan in the freezer. Break up the semi-frozen liquid after about an hour and then leave it undisturbed to freeze the rest of the way, about 2-3 hours.
7) When ready to serve break the granita into little pieces/flakes by raking back on it with a fork. Spoon the little crystals into the lemon cups or serving cups and eat immediately! Enjoy the brain freeze!