Topped with Toasted Pistachio Praline
Happy New Year!
Welcome to the first (and slightly accidental) post for 2017. A summer dessert that is so fabulous and so easy that I could not wait to share. Trust me, you are gonna love this one! Fat free, dairy free, gluten free and vegan. Now normally that much “free” would have me heading in the other direction (and fast!), but you will not miss anything with this wonderful Watermelon Rosewater Granita. Delicate, refreshing, and the colour is just drop dead gorgeous!
I made this yesterday as part of a Middle Eastern dinner party menu. I had originally planned a watermelon salad to accompany my slow cooked lamb; something light to freshen the palate. Watermelon has not been great this season. Horridly expensive and not much taste. Mostly watery and not much flavour. So I cut my melon early in the morning and found the most glorious pink. Hooray! Flavour? Bit wishy washy. So I abandoned the idea of salad and hit on the idea of a granita instead. Adding a hint of rosewater not only suited the Middle eastern flavour that I was looking for, but would help to mask the blandness of the watermelon. So, as this post was not planned, there were no photos taken of me cutting up four cups of watermelon and sticking it in my food processor along with the juice of half a lime, some caster sugar and some rosewater. Not a stretch for your imagination I am sure – we’ve all blended before! Also no pictures of me pouring said liquid into a shallow metal tray and placing in the freezer. Again, if you’ve filled an ice tray, you can manage. I will share what I learned- a shallow tray speeds the process up, so go for a lamington tray if you can make room. No room; no worries, but the freezing process and stirring to make crystals will take time.
Whilst the internet suggested waiting for an hour, I couldn’t help but check after 30 minutes and already ice had formed well around the edge and started to freeze in the centre as well. Use a fork to stir mixture well, and then place back into fridge. At the hour mark my mixture looked like this:
First taste, and WOW! As if the colour was not enough, the flavours are amazing and the “accidental post” photos started. This may have been enough with the stirring and breaking up the crystals, but as it was my first granita, I was worried that it would refreeze, so did another twice. This resulted in fine crystals – if you are looking for something more rustic and less work, stirring less is okay too.
Can you see how fine the granita crystals are? If you are making way ahead of time, you could transfer to a plastic container with a lid. As it was a very hot night, I also put the dessert dishes in the freezer at this stage to ensure that the granita did not become instant slushie.
Now to the praline. Essential? No. Tasty? Yes, yes, yes! and this makes a large amount, so there is extra left over for future sprinkling on ice cream.
Toast 50g pistachios in a moderate oven for 10 minutes. They will still seem a little soft, but will crisp up as they cool down. Lightly oil a baking tray. In a small saucepan, mix 100g caster sugar with 1/4 cup of water, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Once it is DO NOT STIR AGAIN! Bubbles will appear, the liquid will eventually turn from pale to golden then orangey brown. You can swirl the mixture in the pan to ensure even cooking. Once you have the caramel, pour in the pistachios, then tip out onto prepared tray.
It will start to cool almost immediately. When completely cool, it will pop off the tray with a slight twist. Break into pieces and put into the small bowl of the food processor:
Pop a little shard into your mouth – go on – you know you want to! Delicious! Now blitz to make the praline. As fine as you would like. I wanted texture, so kept mine fairly chunky:
Store in an airtight container (especially in this humidity!). This will keep for a few weeks and as I mentioned before, elevates a bowl of vanilla ice cream to a whole new level.
Serve chilled in small dessert bowls. I was happy to have a use for the vintage ones that I had found at a market a few years ago:
The granita would be perfect as is; possibly with just a sprig of mint for presentation. But the praline adds another dimension of texture and crunch against the delicate iciness of the granita:
We discussed adding a little creaminess (possibly a little whipped coconut cream) but decided that it was not really needed – this dessert is perfection just as it is. Enjoy!
- 4 cups watermelon, diced roughly
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- juice 1/2 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1/2 teaspoon rosewater
- 50g unsalted pistachios
- 1/4 water
- 100g caster sugar
- Blend watermelon, lime juice and sugar. Pour through a coarse sieve into a shallow metal dish. Place in the freezer. After 30 minutes, use a fork to stir forming ice crystals back into the mixture. Repeat this process every 30 minutes to an hour until completely frozen into fine crystals (NB - the more shallow the container, the aster this process will be)
- Roast pistachios for 10 minutes in a moderate oven. Oil a baking tray. Place water and extra caster sugar in a small saucepan and stir until sugar melts. Once melted , do not stir again. Allow the mixture to bubble and caramelise, swirling in the pan to ensure even cooking. Once the mixture is dark golden brown, pour in the pistachios, then pour into prepared tray. Allow to cool completely, and then blitz in the bowl of a food processor