Look for a cantaloupe with even netting on the skin and no soft spots. A ripe cantaloupe will have a sweet smell and the stem end will give slightly when pressed. If you can find only an underripe melon, place it in a paper bag on your countertop for 2 or 3 days. It will sweeten slightly, although the sweetness won’t match that of a vine-ripened cantaloupe.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 10 ice cubes
- 1 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cut into pieces (about 4 cups)
- 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Make the sugar syrup
In a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and water and heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat, pour into a heatproof bowl and stir in the ice cubes. Continue stirring until the sugar syrup is cold, about 1 minute. Discard any ice that does not melt. You will have about 1 1/4 cups sugar syrup.
Make the granita base
In a food processor, combine the cantaloupe, lemon juice and sugar syrup. Pulse a few times until the cantaloupe is broken up and then process until a smooth puree forms, about 1 minute.
Freeze the granita
Pour the cantaloupe mixture into a 9-inch square stainless-steel pan or heavy glass dish. Freeze until the mixture is just frozen, about 1 hour. Using a fork, stir the granita to break up the ice crystals into clumps with a slushy texture. Return to the freezer and freeze until firm, but not solid, up to 1 hour.
Spoon the granita into individual glasses or bowls and serve immediately. Serves 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Desserts, by Elinor Klivans (Oxmoor House, 2007).