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Creamsicle Meets Margarita in This Easy-to-Make, Refreshing Frozen Treat

A perfect antidote for summer swelter, the Frosty Orange Cream Margarita Granita gets its grown-up kick from tequila and Grand Marnier.

Creamsicle meets margarita in this easy-to-make, refreshing frozen treat.

Recipe by Christina Barrueta | Photography by David B. Moore

Pastry chef Jolie Skwiercz finds a sweet spot at Ember at We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort.

“I’ve been making desserts since I was a child,” says Jolie Skwiercz. “From the age of 9, I’d be in the kitchen with my mom making things—from lollipops to graham cracker chocolate houses for Christmas.” Now as pastry chef at Ember at We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort, Skwiercz transforms childhood remembrances into elevated indulgences. At Ember, strawberry shortcake is reimagined as brown butter cake with sweet strawberry compote, creamy dulce de leche chocolate mousse and strawberry-kaffir lime ice cream. Fudgy brownies are plant-based, studded with peanuts and hazelnuts and served with luscious cocoa peanut butter ice cream, salted peanut caramel and hazelnut cream.

For this refreshing alcohol-spiked granita, Skwiercz was inspired by the Creamsicles of youthful memories. Summer evenings and the familiar jingle of the ice cream truck meant frozen treats on a stick, including that childhood favorite of vanilla ice cream encased in a shell of tangy orange sherbet. She then adds a South-of-the-border twist with the addition of tequila and lime juice, which marry perfectly with Grand Marnier, a cognac-based orange liqueur. “I think it’s really fun,” says Skwiercz. “It combines the nostalgic flavor of the Creamsicle and a traditional favorite of the Southwest—the margarita, which is so popular here.”

The granita has its roots in Sicily, where it’s an all-day warm-weather frozen treat often served for breakfast accompanied by Sicilian brioche, or enjoyed as an afternoon snack. The icy refresher starts with a liquid base such as fruit juice, or even coffee or tea. It can be as simple as sugar, water and juice, or embellished with fresh fruit, herbs, liqueurs or wine. For Skwiercz’s interpretation, she adds coconut milk scented with vanilla to add depth of flavor and a creamier texture. “This is a great summer dessert that’s vegan, gluten- and dairy-free and can be made ahead and stored in the freezer for easy entertaining,” she notes.

A granita’s crunchy texture is icier than sherbet and more crystalline than sorbet, with an ease of preparation that means no need for special tools or equipment. Simply pour the ingredients into a pan and break up larger pieces with a fork as it freezes. Any freezer-safe dish can be used, although a metal pan is more conducive to the mixture freezing faster. The result is a delightful flaky-fluffy snow that will cool down any festive summer gathering.

For more information, see Sources.

FROSTY ORANGE CREAM MARGARITA GRANITA

INGREDIENTS

1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
¼ cup Grand Marnier
¼ cup tequila (silver or blanco)
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup simple syrup (see recipe below)
Zest of one orange

SIMPLE SYRUP
Combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and transfer to a container and cool completely.

Whisk together coconut milk and vanilla and pour into a 9″L by 5″W metal loaf pan or other similarly sized container. Whisk together orange juice, Grand Marnier, tequila, lime juice, simple syrup and orange zest, add to pan and mix to combine.

Freeze for 5 to 6 hours or until frozen solid, stirring every hour with a fork to pull crystals forming around the edges into the center and breaking up larger chunks.

To serve, use a fork to scrape the mixture into fluffy flakes and spoon into six chilled bowls or margarita glasses. Garnish with mint or citrus slices and serve immediately.

Makes 10 cups [approximately 6 servings]

For a more festive presentation, Skwiercz suggests rimming a martini glass with unsweetened shredded toasted coconut by dipping the rim into simple syrup and rolling in the coconut. Garnish with orange and lime slices, and sprinkle with flaked sea salt.

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