I don’t know about you, but there is only so much serious news and doom and gloom I can take before I get completely overloaded, so today’s recipe is pure fun. Gin and Tonic Jelly with Lemon Granita is a fabulous dinner party dessert and always gets people talking. The clear jelly is cut to look like ice cubes and the zesty, icy granita melts in the mouth and cleanses the palate after a big meal. Both components require some waiting around in the kitchen and a bit of patience, but what better time than now when we’re all at home anyway?
I first tried this particular combination in a little restaurant in the Barri Gòtic, the Gothic Quarter near the bottom of La Rambla in Barcelona. It was one of those sultry, Spanish summer nights and this was the perfect dish to end the meal: sweet, tart, fun and a little bit naughty! It also solves a truly first-world dilemma that always bugs me: what to do with the flat half-bottle of tonic left in the fridge?!
I hate throwing away food, even if it’s just some flat soft drink so I’m always trying to find a way to use it up. If you don’t fancy making a G&T Jelly, it’s worthwhile freezing leftover tonic in a dedicated ice cube tray, that way you can use the ice cubes in your evening gin and tonic without watering it down. Genius huh?
Lemons are coming to the end of their season in Europe right now, so this is the perfect way to preserve a little of their freshness a little longer. As a big bonus, this granita is also bursting with Vitamin C to help boost the immune system. As always, I hope that you are all safe and healthy. Take care out there. x J
Gin and Tonic Jelly / Lemon Granita
for the jelly:
- 8 sheets gold strength gelatine
- 700 ml tonic water, flat is fine
- 100 ml gin
for the granita:
- 200 g sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 500 ml water
- 200 ml lemon juice, 5-6 juicy lemons
- ½ - 1 tsp citric acid
- mint leaves and lemon slices, to serve
- To make the jelly, line a 20x30 cm dish with clingfilm and set aside. Soak the gelatine sheets in a large bowl of cold water.
- Heat the tonic water in a medium saucepan until warm, then squeeze out the gelatine sheets and add to the tonic, one at a time, stirring until dissolved. Pour the gin into the saucepan and mix well, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- When the jelly mixture is cool, pour into the prepared dish and chill in the fridge until set. This can be made in the morning ready for the evening, but I suggest letting the jelly set at least 24 hours.
- To make the granita, first put a glass baking dish (Pyrex etc) in the freezer to chill. Place the sugar, lemon zest and water in a medium saucepan. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice. If you like the granita extra tart, add up to 1 tsp citric acid, but remember it will be less sweet when it freezes.
- Pour the mixture into the chilled dish and set a timer for 1.5 hours. When the timer is up, take the dish out of the freezer and use a fork to gently bring the ice crystals that have formed around the outside into the middle of the dish. Repeat at half-hour intervals until the mixture is entirely frozen - this will take up to 4 hours, but the active work only takes seconds. You will end up with a big bowl of delicious, lemony, icy crystals.
- When the granita is fully frozen, cover the dish and keep in the freezer until needed.
- To serve, lift the jelly out of the dish and use a thin, sharp knife to cut it into cubes. Divide the granita between 4-6 chilled glasses, top with the jelly ‘ice cubes’ and garnish with a thin slice of lemon and a sprig of mint. Spoon an extra teaspoon of granita over the top of each, then serve immediately.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Making the granita looks like it takes too long! Is there a substitute?
Sure! Just use a good quality lemon sorbet instead. The hands-on work of making granita is very little, but you do need to be around the kitchen every half hour or so to stir it.
I forgot about my granita and now I have a solid block of ice. What can I do?
This has happened to everybody making granita at least once I think. I’d suggest dipping the bowl in warm (not hot!) water until you can release the block of ice. Cut it into small chunks and process in a food processor with the blade attachment fitted with 1 egg white until pale and smooth. Transfer to a freezer-proof container and freeze until set. You’ll have a lovely lemon sorbet, and that works just as well. You will see suggestions that you can scrape the hard ice with a fork to make crystals, but I’ll be honest with you here, its a thankless task and the result is too fine and will melt before you get the dessert on the table.
I want extra boozy jelly! Can I bump up the amount of gin?
Yes you can, though alcohol has some effect on the strength of the gelatine. I’ve made a lot of jellies with alcohol in them and I find that this is about the right amount, but if you are determined, add up to another 100ml of gin and 2 more gelatine sheets.
I don’t like bitter tonic! Can I substitute?
Of course, either sweeten the tonic with a few spoons of sugar or try swapping it out for lemonade or ginger ale, it won’t be as clear though!