Today I smelled spring – just a hint. The air was chilled, but it had green smell, and the birds were in full song. I realized the snow would soon be gone, and I would be cooking very different things. Visions of fresh spinach salads, wild ramps, and strawberries swirled in my head. But I’m getting way ahead of myself. It is March, I live in Wisconsin – winter is still here.
But my spring thoughts made me crave a bright, sour taste (or it could be because I’m 8 months pregnant.) So I came up with a transitional treat that would feature winter, yet hearken the coming of spring.
I made a basic lemon simple syrup, and drizzled it over clean, fluffy snow. It was like those Hawaiian shaved ice treats you get at the state fair, but so much better. The clean snow had a fresh, mineral taste and a light texture that makes a fun treat for kids, but also would make an intriguing dinner party dessert or sorbet course.
Make it fast, before the snow is gone!
Citrus Snow Granita
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice
zest from one lemon
6 cups of clean snow, lightly scraped from a big drift near your back door
1) Heat sugar, water, lemon juice and zest in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool to room temperature, then chill in refrigerator until ready to use (syrup needs to be cool when you pour it, so as to not immediately melt your snow.) Strain out and reserve lemon zest.
2) When ready to serve, place 1 cup snow in four pretty dishes. Pour 1/4 cup lemon simple syrup over each portion. Stir lightly, then add an additional 1/2 cup snow to the top, and barely incorporate (the syrup melts the snow a bit, so adding more snow after pouring gives it a fresher look.) Garnish with reserved lemon zest.
Variations: You could use any flavored simple syrup for this dessert, the process would be the same (including straining out the solids). Some to try:
– 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and a scraped vanilla bean
– 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and a bunch of mint
– 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup blood orange juice and zest
– 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup lime juice, and mint (mojito!) You could stir in a glug of rum just before serving this one too!