Granita is a traditional Italian dessert, made from sugar, water, and flavorings frozen and scraped into an icy crystalline form. The idea for this dish comes from Mosu in San Francisco, where a few bites of fruity granita with toasted pine nuts were kind of a pre-dessert following the savory courses. I thought it was delicious and the perfect transition, so this dish is kind of my homage to it. It's a granita made from seasonal blood oranges, hiding a dollop of sweetened Greek yogurt that's been aerated with a whipping siphon, the perfect contrast. The toasted/crushed pine nuts, citrus zest, and some orange blossom honey on top really seal the deal. I am proud of how the entire meal came out, all things considered, but this dish is quite possibly my favorite one.
Prepare the yogurt foam:
This preparation comes from Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park in NYC, who inspired many of the dessert recipes on this menu. If you don't have a whipping siphon you can make the yogurt gel from the next dish, but the siphon lightens the yogurt in a way that's really hard to substitute.
Makes about 2 cups (will expand in volume when dispensed)
1 sheet gelatin
160g cream (~ 2/3 cup)
225g Greek yogurt (~ 1 cup)
0.3g xanthan gum (0.1% cream + yogurt)
48g sugar (1/4 cup)
2 N2O cartridges
Whipping siphon, N2O cartridges
Bloom the gelatin in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes.
In a small pot over medium heat, combine the cream, sugar, and xanthan gum, and heat to just below a boil.
Squeeze the excess water from the gelatin and melt into the cream mixture.
Strain through a chinois, combine with the Greek yogurt. Chill in a bowl set in an ice bath.
Transfer the mixture to a siphon and charge twice, shaking well after each charge. Reserve in refrigerator until needed (the gas acts as a preservative, so this can be prepared ahead of time without loss in quality).
For the dish:
For 4 servings.
For the granita:
Makes about 3 1/2 cups
5 blood oranges
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
Yogurt foam, from above
2 Tbsp pine nuts
Orange blossom honey
Blood orange zest (or lemon zest)
Mortar and pestle
At least 4 hours in advance, start the granita. Use a peeler to remove strips of zest from 4 of the blood oranges.
Combine the water and sugar and bring up to a simmer. Turn off the heat and let cool. Transfer to a container, add the zest peels, and chill in the refrigerator.
Once the infused simple syrup is cool, strain out the peels and squeeze in the juice of all of the blood oranges. Save one for zest for serving (or use lemon zest).
Add the mixture to a wide tupperware and set in the freezer. Scrape with a fork towards the center every 40 minutes to get good crystal formation.
Chill your serving bowls in the freezer.
Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium-high heat until browned, shaking often, about 4 minutes. Do not leave the nuts unattended, as they go from raw to browned to burnt extraordinarily quickly. Crush the toasted nuts in a mortar and pestle; set aside.
To serve: zest a blood orange or lemon; set aside. Pipe a small dollop of the yogurt foam onto a plate to check consistency; shake more to firm up if needed. Pipe a small dollop at the bottom of a frozen serving bowl. Scrape the granita with a fork in to cover the foam. Garnish with some of the crushed toasted pine nuts, the orange blossom honey, and the fresh zest. Serve immediately.