From Gelato To Granita, Frozen Treats Explained

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What's the difference between ice cream and gelato? Is frozen yogurt really good for you? And just what is granita anyway?

Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst drops in with some samples, as well as a recipe for "Watermelon-Lemongrass-Sea Salt Granita."

If you have an ice cream maker and want to make your own ice cream treat, she also shares a two-part recipe from food writer Jennie Schacht's new book, "I Scream Sandwich: Inspired Recipes for the Ultimate Frozen Treat."

"Lemon Zinger SANDWICH!" is gluten-free lemon curd ice cream, plus soft ginger cookies if you want to make it into an ice cream sandwich.

Watermelon-Lemongrass-Sea Salt Granita

Kathy's Note: A granita is like an Italian ice or a fresh fruit slushy that you make using nothing more than a cake pan and fork. You puree the mixture, place it in an 8-9-inch metal pan or cake pan, freeze for an hour, and then use a fork to crush up any lumps. You can use any type of fruit or flavoring you can think of. Plan on letting the granita freeze for at least 3-4 hours, or overnight.

Customers wait in line at Aggie's in South Berwick, Maine. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Customers wait in line at Aggie's in South Berwick, Maine. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped lemongrass or 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
4 cups seedless watermelon
Dash sea salt

Place the sugar, water and lemongrass in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Remove from the heat and strain.

Place the watermelon is a food processor or bender and blend until pureed. Add the lemongrass-sugar syrup and blend. Add the sea salt. Place in a 8 to 9-inch metal pan or 8-inch cake pan and place in the freezer.

After one hour, use a fork or a whisk and break up the ice crystals. After another hour, repeat. And after another hour repeat once more. Cover and freeze.

Other ideas:
(The flavoring goes into the sugar syrup and is then blended with the pureed fruit)
*Cantaloupe-Ginger Granita
*Strawberry (with a splash of balsamic vinegar)
*Honeydew melon and fresh basil
*Blueberry-Ginger-Black Pepper
*Strawberry and Spiced sugar (cloves, cinnamon, allspice)

Lemon Zinger SANDWICH!

Lemon Zinger Sandwich by Jennie Schacht. (Sara Remington)
Lemon Zinger Sandwich by Jennie Schacht. (Sara Remington)

Jennie's Note: I don’t often make custard-based ice creams, but here, the yolks already used to thicken the lemon curd eliminate the need to use other thickeners — the curd serves as flavoring and thickener all at once. The boldly spiced cookies perfectly complement the rich-tart curd. Note that the cookies use two whites and the curd two yolks. Coincidence? No way.

Makes 12 sandwiches

Lemon Curd Ice Cream | Gluten Free

1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup (134 g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups whole milk

To make the lemon curd, set a fine-mesh strainer over a small bowl and place it near the stove.

Whisk the egg, yolks, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and salt in a heavy, nonreactive saucepan until well mixed. Gently heat the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula (be sure to get into the corners), until the curd thickly coats a spoon drawn through it, 6 to 8 minutes.

Scrape the curd into the strainer, then press it through the strainer into the bowl. Set the bowl of curd into a larger bowl of ice and water and stir occasionally until cool, taking care not to slosh water into the bowl. (The curd may be used immediately, or refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days before making the ice cream)

Whisk the cream and milk into the cooled or chilled curd. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours. Transfer the bowl to the freezer for the last half hour before spinning it.

Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. When it is ready, transfer the ice cream to a chilled container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Soft Ginger Cookies

2 cups (264 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
A few twists of finely ground black pepper (optional)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed (150 g) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons turbinado or coarse sugar, for rolling

Whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk in the cardamom and pepper, if using. Set aside.

Mix the butter with the brown and granulated sugars in a medium bowl using a wooden spoon until they are well blended. Stir in the molasses, then the egg whites, mixing well and scraping the bowl with a spatula between additions. Stir in the flour mixture until no white streaks remain. Refrigerate until firm enough to form balls of the mixture, at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Put the turbinado sugar for rolling in a bowl. Use a scoop or your hands to form 24 balls using a rounded tablespoon of dough per cookie. As you make the balls, dunk one side in the sugar, then place sugar-side up on the baking sheet, evenly spacing the cookies with about 1 inch all around them.

Bake until the cookies are just set, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. The cookies will be puffed when you pull them from the oven and will settle as they cool. Let the cookies cool on the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer them on their liners to wire racks to cool completely.


Pair the completely cooled cookies with like-size mates. Slightly soften the ice cream. Sandwich a scoop of ice cream between each set of cookie bottoms. Press gently to squeeze the ice cream slightly beyond the edges. If you wish, smooth the ice cream flush with the cookie edge.

TAKE IT EASY: Use store-bought bakery-style soft ginger cookies. Stir or swirl store-bought or homemade lemon curd into softened vanilla ice cream.

DRESS IT UP: Roll the sides of the sandwiches in finely chopped crystalized ginger or candied lemon peel.

This segment aired on June 18, 2013.


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