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When temperatures soar as they did last week, life, at least for those of us who hate such heat, becomes more of an act of triage than anything else. Appetites typically plummet in hot weather and even remembering to drink enough water can be challenging when you’re utterly miserable.

Most of us have certain go-to foods at times like this. It may be lemonade, ice cream, ice pops, watermelon, ice tea, iced coffee, simple salads, or, if the heat wave is an extended one, nothing at all but water for a day or two.

Things get even more complicated when you run out of your favorite cool-down delights and have to leave your house. This is when it is a good time to discover granita, a frozen desert that is easy to make, even if your pantry isn’t well stocked.

Granita is, basically, a flavored liquid that has been frozen and fluffed with a fork. All you need to make it is water, sugar, some sort of flavoring, and a freezer. It is the simplest of all frozen desserts, unless you like to toss grapes into the freezer, stick them on a toothpick, and call them Popsicles.

The two most important elements of making granita is to make it a tad sweeter than you think you want it to be — because the perception of sweetness will decrease once the liquid is frozen — and to perfect your fluffing technique. Once the granita is in the freezer, you’ll need to check it after an hour and use a fork to pull the frozen edges toward the center. After that, check the granita every half hour and use a fork to rake through it, fluffing it as you do so.

Once it is completely frozen and fluffy, it is ready to enjoy.

If you love Hawaiian shave ice, granita is a good substitute, as it is all but impossible to find the real thing locally. It’s also your best bet if you love root beer Popsicles, which are really hard to find. All you need to do is pour a bottle or two of good root beer into a metal pan and freeze and fluff it as you would any flavor.

Some recipes, especially those you find online, add half-and-half or cream to granita, but this is not at all traditional and, at least in my opinion, diminishes the final result. In a heat wave, creamy desserts can seem warming, and you don’t want that. You want a nicely flavored fluffy ice and nothing more. It’s fine to serve something alongside — fresh fruit is best — but let the granita be as pristine and refreshing as it is meant to be.

Leftover granita should be scooped into a container with a lid, stored in the freezer, and fluffed with a fork before enjoying.

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For many people, dinner is not complete without coffee. But who wants to drink coffee on a hot night? This is a light and lighthearted substitute.

Coffee Granita
Makes 6 to 10 servings

3 cups strongly brewed coffee, hot

3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the coffee, sugar, and vanilla extract into a pan and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Taste and add a bit more sugar if you like.

Set in the freezer for 1 hour. Set dessert bowls or wide-mouth glasses in the refrigerator.

Remove the pan and use a fork to rake through the frozen edges of the granita, breaking up the crystals as you do so. Return the pan to the freezer for 30 minutes and rake again. Continue the process until the granita is completely frozen and fluffy.

Use a chilled ice cream scoop to spoon granita into the chilled containers and enjoy right away.

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Watermelon is arguably the most refreshing food in the world and turning it into granita makes it even more refreshing. You can use this same recipe as a template for any melon granita.

Watermelon Granita
Makes 6 to 10 servings

4 cups fresh watermelon juice, strained

— Sugar, as needed

— Fresh mint leaves, optional

Pour the watermelon into a 9-inch-by-13-inch metal pan or similar container, taste it, and add sugar if it is not sweet enough. Stir until any added sugar is dissolved.

Set in the freezer for 1 hour. Set dessert bowls or wide-mouth glasses in the refrigerator.

Remove the pan and use a fork to rake through the frozen edges of the granita, breaking up the crystals as you do so. Return the pan to the freezer for 30 minutes and rake again. Continue the process until the granita is completely frozen and fluffy.

Use a chilled ice cream scoop to spoon granita into the chilled containers, top with a mint leave or two, if using, and enjoy right away.

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The inspiration for this dish comes from my visit to Sarawak, one of the thirteen states of Malaysia.

Pineapple Granita with Black Pepper
Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 cups fresh ripe pineapple, minced

— Black pepper in a mill

3/4 cups simple syrup with Pepper (see note below)

— Juice of 2 lemons

— Sprigs of fresh mint

Put the pineapple into a bowl, season with several turns of black pepper, stir in the simple syrup and lemon juice, place in a shallow stainless steel pan, and put it in the freezer until it is nearly frozen. Remove from the freezer, rake with a fork to break it up, and return to the freezer until it is completely frozen. Rake with a fork again.

To serve, put generous scoops of granita into chilled glasses or bowls. Garnish with a mint leaf and serve immediately.

Variation: Before putting the granita into glasses, add several slices of fresh pineapple, seasoned with salt and pepper.

Note: Simmer equal amounts of sugar and water (two cups of each is ideal) in a saucepan without stirring until the liquid is clear. Remove from the heat, cool slightly, and add a tablespoon of lightly crushed black peppercorns. Let steep for at least an hour, strain, and store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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This is a savory and somewhat more elaborate granita that is perfect as a starter at a summer dinner party. You can make a non-alcoholic version simply by omitting the vodka that is added at the end.

Bloody Mary Granita
Makes 8 servings

4 cups fresh tomato juice (see Note below)

1-2 serranos, minced

3 tablespoons finely minced cilantro

— Juice of 1 lime

— Pinch of kosher salt

— Pinch of sugar

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 shake of Worcestershire sauce

1-2 shakes of Tabasco sauce

1 lime, in quarters

— Flake salt, in a dish

— Vodka, in a bottle

Put the tomato juice, serranos, cilantro, lime juice, kosher salt, pinch of sugar, celery salt, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce in a bowl, stir, cover, and let rest at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes. Taste and correct for salt as needed.

Strain the juice into a stainless steel container and set in the freezer for 1 hour.

Remove the pan and use a fork to rake through the frozen edges of the granita, breaking up the crystals as you do so.

Return the pan to the freezer for 30 minutes and rake again. Continue the process until the granita is completely frozen and fluffy.

Chill serving glasses and put the vodka in the freezer.

To serve, rub the rim of the glasses with a wedge of lime and dip into the plate of salt.

Pour a shot of chilled vodka into each of the glasses and top with generous scoops of the granita. Enjoy right away.

Note: To make fresh tomato juice, chop about 3 pounds of very ripe tomatoes, set them in a strainer or colander, stir in 2 teaspoons of salt, and let drain for 30 mintues, stirring now and then. Discard the solids or use them in another dish.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “The Good Cook’s Book of Tomatoes.” Email her at michele@micheleannajordan.com.