Watermelon-Lychee Granita

>> Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Watermelon-Lychee Granita

Last weekend, my delightfully quirky girlfriends got together for a "Young Frankenstein" party. I'm glad that I even know women who enjoy that movie, and we were excited to initiate a couple of the ladies who had never seen it before. The food theme for the party was German, though the movie is set in Transylvania. I brought watermelon-lychee sorbet.

Yes, I know that granita, or sorbet, is not German; it's also not the first type of dessert you might think of during a Chicago winter. But I had a can of lychee fruit I was wanting to use, a couple of limes that I absolutely had to use (soon!), and a recipe for fruit ice that I'd been eager to try. Plus, I needed a light fruit-based companion for the Reuben dip, Bavarian soft pretzels, hot cheese spread, kielbasa, and German meatballs at the party.

So I took my frozen pan of lovely salmon-colored ice to the party, put it in Jo's refrigerator to defrost, and promptly forgot about it. At eleven that night, as we collected our bowls and stowed our leftovers, I remembered my dessert.

It was perfectly thawed, full of crunchy sweet-sour ice crystals, and I scooped some into goblets and pleaded for everyone to have a taste before they left. "It's really healthy!" I exclaimed. "It's mostly just fruit!" I had another whole pan at home; how would Joe and I ever eat all that watermelon ice? Everyone was tired and they just wanted to go home. They were really only humoring me by having a taste, circled around the kitchen island in their coats.

It was one of those moments you live for as a cook. They spooned up every little bite and asked for seconds. We dreamed about other new fruit combinations - watermelon-mint! Apricot-ginger-prosecco! Our minds fast-forwarded to sultry August, when we would lounge on our flowery decks slipping spoonfuls of this frozen nectar between our lips. They begged me to let them take some home, and I thankfully gave it away. Joe and I would not be compelled to eat dessert every night for the next two weeks!

I love when I make something I love, and other people are delighted by it. I hope you like this as much as my friends did.

P. S. They talked about seeing "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" next. And wearing costumes. Hmmm, who would I be?
Young Frankenstein Movie Poster


1 15-oz. can pitted lychee fruit in syrup (reserve the syrup)
1/4 cup superfine sugar
5 limes, or 1/2 cup lime juice (kitchen hint: freeze the lime peels for the next time you need lime zest)
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
6 cups watermelon fruit, de-seeded and cubed


Drain the lychees, reserving the syrup in a small saucepan. Add the lime juice and sugar to the syrup. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool.

In a food processor or blender, puree the watermelon, lychee, ginger, and syrup. When it is finely pureed, strain the mixture through a fine sieve, and discard the solids.

Pour into a large shallow metal pan and put into the freezer for two hours. Take out the pan and break up the ice crystals with a fork. Repeat again each hour until the ice is frozen solid.

To serve, allow the granita to thaw enough that it can be served with a spoon or ice cream scoop.

Serves 4-8.

P.S. The original recipe comes from the gorgeously-photographed cook book, "Cooking from Above: Asian".


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