As a kid, I had a thing for magenta. Not red, not pink: magenta. I liked the sound of it, for one thing. Try it now: mahhh-gen-TAH! It also happened to be the hue of my eight-year-old self’s favorite outfit (a stripey multiples number, complete with cumberbund, if you must know). I also adored the book Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, but that’s neither here nor there, is it?
Magenta also features prominently in one of my favorite childhood memories. A distant cousin (second cousin, I think, but really: what does that even mean?) came to visit, decked out in magenta (knowing it was my favorite shade) and took me to the zoo. We rode camels and ate magenta-colored snow cones, and, well, that’s really all it takes for an eight year old, isn’t it?
Now, I know it couldn’t be any further from snow cone season at the moment, but it is citrus season (clearly). And when I found blood oranges at the market last weekend, I had an inexplicable desire to use them in a granita. (Truth be told, I also wanted to make them directly into margaritas, but I have a fiesta in my near future and I tapped my deepest reserves of restraint to hold off on the margs until then.)
So I juiced up the oranges (after marveling at their ruby insides, naturally), stirred in some simple syrup, lemon juice and a pinch of freshly-ground black pepper and let the concoction firm up in the freezer. Once it had hardened into a big jewel-toned ice cube, I scraped it with a fork, yielding a mound of fluffy shaved ice.
After one bite—imminently refreshing: tart and sweet, with a sparkling kick from the black pepper—I couldn’t help but think of that snow cone at the zoo. And, while this granita isn’t quite magenta, it’s close.
Blood Orange Granita
4 cups blood orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup simple sugar (2 parts sugar to 1 part water, heated to boiling)
1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Adjust sugar to taste. Pour liquid into large shallow stainless steel pan and place in freezer. When frozen, scrape with fork until fluffy and serve, as desired.