This easy lemon basil granita is a frozen dessert made with a quick basil honey simple syrup and lemon juice. No ice cream maker needed!
I'm not sure if it's obvious, but I've been looking for ways to use fresh basil.
My basil plants are as large as ever!
Each day when I go outside, it seems like they grew even bigger.
I've spent most of this summer in one long, drawn out basil food experiment.
When the plants kept getting larger, despite (or maybe because of) my constant pruning, I made basil vinegar and dairy-free basil pesto. The vinegar and pesto are nice because they'll last me all winter long!
Recently, however, while snacking on a bowl of watermelon mint sorbet, something occurred to me. Basil would be absolutely delicious in a dessert.
It's a little unexpected, true, but it's wonderful.
This easy lemon basil granita is an icy twist on my basil lemonade, a sweet and tart dessert made without an ice cream maker or any other special kitchen appliances.
What is Granita?
Granita is an Italian sweet treat.
Traditionally, it's made with water, sugar, and lemon juice, but you'll find that it comes in lots of different flavors (such as this berry granita).
This recipe is made with mostly traditional ingredients, but we're swapping some of the sugar for honey, and also (of course) adding fresh basil.
Granita is made by mixing together the ingredients and pouring them into a shallow container. The container is placed in a freezer, and then scraped periodically with a fork.
It's a lot like homemade shaved ice.
What Kind of Basil Should I Use?
Use whatever fresh or frozen basil you have on hand!
I used mostly sweet basil, but I threw in a little bit of spicy globe basil.
Keep in mind that your granita will end up slightly spicier if you use mostly (or all) spicy varieties of basil.
Can I Use Less Sugar in This Lemon Basil Granita?
You can, but the granita might be harder to scrape, and more likely to turn into a big block of ice.
Sugar lowers the freezing point of the ice, making it easier to scrape into flakes.
If you use less sugar, I recommend scrapping the granita every 30 minutes instead of every hour until the granita is fluffy.
Also, keep in mind that despite the sugar content, this dessert has quite a bit of lemon juice, and is both sweet and tart. Reducing the sugar will leave you with a much tarter granita.
How to Make Basil Honey Syrup
Add sugar, honey, basil, lemon zest, and water to a saucepan.
Heat it until it comes to a simmer, and then remove the pan from the heat. Let the basil infuse in the syrup for 15 minutes, and then strain out the basil.
How to Make Lemon Basil Granita
Next, juice lemons until you've got about a cup of lemon juice. You'll need about six to eight lemons.
Add the syrup to the lemon juice.
Pour the sweet lemon mixture into a shallow container.
Place the container uncovered into the freezer. Make sure you've got a level spot where the container won't get jostled!
After two hours, use a fork to scrape the granita.
It will probably still be a little slushy.
After two more hours (so four hours total), scrape the lemon basil granita again.
If you forget to scrape it after four hours, simply scrape it when you remember. An overnight freeze is fine.
At this point, granita should be light and fluffy.
At this point, I like to either serve the granita right away or transfer it to a homemade ice cream container.
Serve this icy cold treat on a hot summer day along with a tall glass of infused water.
Lemon Basil Granita
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup basil (roughly packed)
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice (6-8 lemons), plus grated zest from one lemon
- Make a simple syrup by mixing the water, basil, honey, sugar in a saucepan. Use a microplane grater to zest one lemon. Add the zest to the syrup.Bring mixture to a simmer and remove from heat.Set aside for 15 minutes, and then strain the basil out of the syrup.
- Juice lemons until you have 1 cup of lemon juice. Mix together the lemon juice and the basil-honey syrup.
- Pour entire mixture into an shallow container. (I use a medium-size casserole dish).Set pan uncovered on a level surface in the freezer for 2 hours, and then scrape with a fork. Pay extra attention to the edges, making sure to scrape the frozen fruit mixture away from the side of the container.Tip: Set a timer so that you don't forget to scrape the granita.
- Scrape the mixture again 2 hours later, or just before serving.It's fine to wait until the next day to scrape it again.Serve right away, or transfer the granita to an air-tight container and serve within a week.