Baked Sunday Mornings: Almond Granita

I'm going rogue again this week. The recipe on the Baked Sunday Mornings schedule for today is the Easy Homemade Granola -- but I already made the granola last year (you can read my blog post about it here). So I decided to make the Almond Granita from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking instead.

This is a very easy recipe. You're supposed to make it in a food processor by grinding blanched almonds with sugar, cinnamon, and almond extract until very fine; adding hot water and processing until the mixture becomes a paste; and adding cold water. I started out with almond flour and I mixed everything in my Vitamix instead of using a food processor. I poured the mixture into a glass Pyrex pan, put it in the freezer, and stirred and scraped it periodically until it was frozen.
I tried to shape the granita into a round scoop but the mixture was too loose and each serving was basically just a pile of soft, fine, frozen bits. But I really liked the granita, and the more I ate, the more I liked it. To me, the flavor was a dead ringer for Mexican horchata. The headnote describes the granita this recipe is adapted from as "icy, nutty, almost milky, and scented with a hint of cinnamon," and that's pretty much horchata on the nose; I think horchata doesn't taste like rice as much as it does like milk (regardless of whether it's made with milk or water) and cinnamon.

The granita was barely sweet and was not as almond-y as I had been expecting -- I think it probably could have used a little more almond extract (the recipe also notes that you can toast some of the almonds first to intensify the nutty flavor). A pinch of salt might have been a good addition as well. Still, the granita was extremely refreshing and very light. I also liked the fine texture. It wasn't hard and icy, but pleasantly soft (although as a corollary, it melted quickly). While it didn't last long at room temperature, this granita was an unusual, lovely, and light dessert.

Recipe: "Almond Granita" from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.

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