Granita di mandorle [pronunciation is: grahneetah dee mandawrlay]
200gr almonds, shelled and skinned
1 liter mineral water
Bitter almond extract
- Start by grinding the almonds to a powder. You can use a mortar and pestle like I do or do it in the mixer, but please don't use ground almonds bought from the store, much of the delicate almond taste will be gone before you even start.
- Bring the water to a boil, add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Add the ground almonds and leave to rest overnight. You can use a mixer to further grind the almonds in the liquid if you want. The point of the overnight infusion is to draw as much of the almonds' flavor as possible.
- The next day, taste and add a little sugar or bitter almond extract if needed.
- Some people will not filter their granita but I find the bland almond powder distasteful. I recommend you use a cloth or find sieve to filter them out. - You will end up with almond milk, a whitish liquid reminiscent of cow milk but with a delicious barley water flavor. Amazing for breakfast!
If you have an ice cream machine, just churn it until frozen. Most people don't have an ice-cream machine and just place the almond milk in the freezer, removing it every 30 minutes or so for a quick mixing with an electric mixer. You could even do it with a fork, the point being to avoid the formation of large water crystals and go for a snow-like consistency.
It is traditionally eaten over brioche, the French butter-and-egg Sunday bread, a testimonial of 19th century French influences over upper-class local cuisine. Although the association of ice cream and pastry seems odd and of the I-love-to-mix-ketchup-with-mustard kind, the combination is a real winner.
I recently served this with brioche for breakfast but I love it decorated with small piecs of white almonds!