F A LIGHT, ELEGANT FINALE TO A VALENtine's Day dinner would suit your style, consider a raspberry granita, a cool confection blending sweet red fruit with the sparkle of Champagne.
Romance aside, this proposal is madly practical, as recipe details make clear. The granita is made completely in the home freezer; no sorbet or ice cream makers are required, it's quick to prepare, and may be made up to a week ahead.
For a charming presentation, serve this ice dessert in a glass coupe dish or large martini glass. Note: The original recipe calls for Champagne, but cooks who prefer to make it without alcohol can substitute a lemon-lime soda (which naturally gives a rather different flavor in the finished dessert).
Another advantage of red raspberry Champagne granita: Diners are likely to find it easy to eat after even the richest Valentine feast. The dessert's light texture results from breaking up the ice crystals during the preparation several times, and refreezing the ice to keep it airy.
RED RASPBERRY CHAMPAGNE GRANITA
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
4 cups frozen red raspberries, thawed
11/2 cups fresh grapefruit juice
11/2 cups dry Champagne (see note)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup framboise or other raspberry liqueur (see note)
1 cup fresh red raspberries (optional garnish)
Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water in a small heavy saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil 1 minute. Cool. Refrigerate syrup until cold, about 45 minutes.
Puree enough raspberries (about 1 cup) in blender to yield 1/2 cup of puree. Transfer raspberry puree to large bowl. Mix grapefruit juice, Champagne, lemon juice and chilled syrup into raspberry puree. Pour mixture into 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan.
Freeze granita mixture until icy at the edge of pan, about 55 minutes. Using a whisk, mix to distribute frozen portions evenly. Freeze again until icy at edge of pan and overall texture is slushy, about 40 minutes. Whisk again to distribute frozen portions evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until mixture is solid, about 3 hours (time may differ with individual freezer temperatures).
Meanwhile, mix remaining red raspberries with 1/4 sugar and 1/4 cup framboise in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Using fork, scrape granita down length of pan, forming ice flakes. Do this for the whole pan, leave in flakes, cover with plastic wrap and return to freezer or serve immediately. (Granita can be prepared up to 2 days ahead of time.)
To serve: Divide raspberries in liqueur between 6 wide, wine or dessert coupe glasses. Top with scoops of granita, garnish with fresh raspberries if desired, and serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings.
Note: To make a nonalcoholic granita, for the Champagne substitute 11/2 cups lemon-lime soda such as Sprite or 7-Up, and omit the framboise.
Nutrition information per serving: 304 cal., 2.60 g pro., 61.34 g carbo., 0.19 g fat, 6.85 g sodium.