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There are times I've forsaken dinner because it's just too hot to eat. Proximity to a stove or, god forbid, an oven, is just unacceptable. Even expending the metabolic energy for a cold meal seems like too much to bear. But eventually, hunger calls, too loud to ignore. My answer? Granita.
For what's essentially a dry slushy, granitas are a perfect dessert: light, bright, and ridiculously refreshing. No ingredient captures those qualities for me more than mint, which is lying around my kitchen all through spring and summer. A mint granita was a no-brainer, but I wanted to give it some depth: contrast and added dimension.
Green chiles pair quite well with mint. Their spicy kick harmonizes with mint's bright notes, and the verdant green flavors bring out mint's grassy elements. Plus chiles should be in desserts more often anyway. Especially in hot weather, where spicy food is traditionally used to cool the body down. In this granita, the chiles are just an accent supporting the mint, and aren't that hot. Feel free to add more if you prefer yours with serious bite.
Like many granitas, this isn't so much a recipe as a guideline. Herbs and chiles vary in strength, so your cooking time and inclusion of sugar, salt, and lime juice may vary. Just don't cook the base too long—"cooked" mint flavors aren't very fun—and add your sweetener and seasonings a little at a time. Sure, a granita is an elegant dessert. But making it is a casual, slapdash process. Enjoy the experience, and reap the rewards of a sweet for hot, sticky days when nothing else will do.
Ethan Frisch is the chef and co-mastermind behind Guerrilla Ice Cream. He's traveled around the world (30 countries, 5 continents) and worked as a pastry chef and line cook in some of NYC's great (and not so great) restaurants. He currently lives in London, where he really misses New York City tap water.
Max Falkowitz writes Serious Eats' weekly Spice Hunting column. He's a proud native of Queens, New York, will do just about anything for a good cup of tea, and enjoys long walks down the aisles of Chinese groceries.You can follow his ramblings on Twitter.