|Strawberry Granita with Grand Marnier|
Winona is one of several types grown by the farmer who delivered a truckload of berries to the market three times a week. A long line of eager customers were waiting for him. Those at the back of the line were understandably a little anxious. The farmer took his time with each customer, chatting and laughing. When there was more than one variety available, he’d recommend a type depending on how the customer was going to use the berries.
As the too-short season progressed, I enjoyed the uniqueness of each variety. The first one I tried was Wendy, a softly complex berry with notes that reminded me of fraises des bois, the wild strawberries I’ve had in France. Then came the bold and sweet Honeoye, which I used for jam, followed by the pretty Jewel and the sweet-tart Sunset.
When I asked the farmer about Winona, he said, “It tastes like a tangerine,” and he was right. I noticed a sweet orange note as I bit into the first one, and then kept sampling more as I drove home.
The citrus notes were a bit of serendipity because I had already planned to use Grand Marnier in adapting Abby Dodge’s Summer Strawberry Sorbet for the #baketogether she recently organized on Twitter. Abby offered the recipe, inviting bloggers to share their own interpretations.
Grand Marnier is my favorite way to add a little something extra to fresh strawberries. This liqueur does for strawberries what coffee does for chocolate—heightens the flavor. It’s like using the saturation feature in Photoshop. Just a few teaspoons on sliced, lightly sweetened berries is all it takes. (Do this the next time you make strawberry shortcake.)
For this recipe, I used two generous tablespoons of liqueur because I wanted the alcohol for its de-icing qualities, a hint I learned from reading David Lebovitz.
The granita was a stunning scarlet hue and its flavor was lively and fresh. And, because I have a stash of local berries in the freezer, I’ll be making more.
Strawberry Granita with Grand Marnier
adapted from Abby Dodge
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 quart strawberries, rinsed, dried and trimmed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur)
Put the sugar and water into a large Pyrex measuring cup. Place in microwave and cook until water is almost boiling. Remove and stir. Set aside to cool.
Cut the berries in halves or quarters depending on how big they are. Put them in a blender and puree until smooth, about 1 minute.
Add the cooled sugar syrup to the fruit puree along with the lemon juice, zest and liqueur. Give one or two pulses. Pour into a bowl to cool completely, then refrigerate until chilled (or up to 1 day). For faster cooling, set the pan over a bowl filled with ice, stirring occasionally, until well chilled.
If you are making a sorbet, pour the chilled mixture into the ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately (it will be soft) or scrape into the chilled dish, cover and freeze until firm or up to 2 days.