The seasons are changing slowly here in Chicago, and when that happens, lots of people I know get bad allergies. Sometimes my allergies turn into a full-on sinus infection which transforms into a sore throat and cough. I got over mine a few weeks back, but now Harvey is not feeling well. He is coughing a lot, and even though he is a stuffed animal and doesn’t say much (sometimes he talks when I drop acid), I know he also has a sore throat. I wanted him to feel better, but he hates cough syrup.
Harvey enjoys popsicles when he is sick, so I thought to myself, “Dannis, how can I sneak him some medicine without him noticing?”
He’s pretty smart and can usually tell I’m up to something. But I thought of something delicious to make him while still being gourmet. As you all know, he enjoys silently judging me while I cook disgusting and exotic foods. So while he was tucked in, I thought of a magical idea. Why don’t I mix popsicles with cough syrup to make Harvey feel better?
And that’s how I thought of today’s dish: The Strawberry-Basil Robitussin Granita With Ricola Cough Drop Spun Sugar.
Now, let’s all step back and think about how I just told you all that Harvey, a tiny cute stuffed penguin, is sick. I bet a bunch of you were like, “Oh, that makes sense. Dannis is a very sad person so he considers Harvey his best friend.” It’s true. Harvey is my best friend. If you were then thinking, “That is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard,” well.
A granita is basically a flaked sorbet. You don’t need any fancy ice cream-making equipment to make a granita. All you need is a few ingredients and a baking pan. To hide the chemical cherry Robitussin flavor, I decided to use strawberries. Despite what many chefs say about only using fresh fruit for desserts, in this case, frozen strawberries are perfectly good. They work well for things like fruit sauces, beverages, and desserts, especially when you pulverize them and don’t need them whole.
To make the granita even more delicious, I bought fresh basil to give it a delicious anise-like flavor. Contrary to popular belief, anise is not pronounced “anus.” I learned that the hard way.
Start by combining a lot of granulated sugar with water (full recipe below) along with basil. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves. I listened to Yanni while I did this. His music is delightful. It makes me moist. I’d also say his music makes your mother moist, but you already knew that.
This recipe yields about 6 cups of granita. If you eat one cup per serving, you will need 6 doses of cough syrup. Cough syrup is serious business, so if you decide to make this, just be very careful. When the sugar dissolves, fish out the basil.
Pour the mixture into the food processor with the berries. It will be easier on your food processor if the berries are partially thawed, but if you stole your food processor from a homeless man in the alleyway, it doesn’t really matter. You can always steal another one later. I don’t understand why the homeless guy in my alleyway has so many food processors.
Actually, he’s not homeless. He works at Target. I didn’t steal this food processor. I bought it from Target. I lied about that too. Your mom got it for me. She stole it from Target. I think your mother is a felon.
Blitz that shit until it’s the texture of runny strawberry diarrhea. No chunks allowed.
Next, pour the liquid into a baking pan. I recommend a thin metal pan since it will get colder sooner, but all I had was this extremely greasy Pyrex pan. Admire my filthy stove.
Also, if you want to recreate the blood bath scene from Carrie, now’s the time to do it. But you have to go to prom first. Don’t be a 34 year old man who barges into prom covered in strawberry granita mix. It will get the cop car all sticky.
Rearrange all the items in your extremely crammed freezer to accommodate the pan. If you guessed that two single men (me and my roommate) in their mid-thirties used this freezer, you would be right. Jesus, this thing is a disgusting mess. I’m posting this picture to shame myself into cleaning it out.
But that little plastic tub in the center of the freezer is duck fat, so you know I’m a serious home celebrity chef.
As the granita is hardening in the freezer, just like I hardened with your mother last night, put the Ricola cough drops in a plastic bag and wrap the bag in a dish towel.
Beat that bag like it owes you money, until its contents are pulverized. To style the photo, buy a candy penis pop from the sex shop and place it discreetly next to the bag. I am a very good food stylist and I would make a good mommy blogger.
This is where things get tricky. Spun sugar is not the easiest trick in the pastry book if you’ve never done it before. Simply melt the cough drops on low heat until they turn into a caramel-colored liquid that is very thick. It will be ready to turn into thread when you lift up the wooden spoon and it starts pulling sugar strings up with it. It’s very easy to burn the cough drops, so do not walk away. If you’re concerned about burning, add a few tablespoons of water in with the powdered cough drops before you heat them up; this will help them heat up more gently so they won’t burn nearly as quick. The water will cook out.
And be very, very, careful. Melted sugar has a lot of latent energy and will burn the living shit out of you. I’m being dead serious.
It’s not easy to turn into shapes, but if you drape the melted cough drops over the side of a metal pot handle you can make it look like the gobs of pubic hair that is clogging up the drain of your shower. It will harden quickly and become very brittle, so be delicate. You’ll be able to handle it shortly after it hardens, which is quick.
Once you’ve set the spun Ricola drops off to the side, you’ll want to mix the granita up every half hour until it turns into the texture of sorbet. It should take about two hours. If you are lazy, you can let the entire thing harden without mixing it — you’ll just need to flake it with a fork before you serve it.
Here is the finished result. It is very pretty. I presented it to Harvey in a penguin martini glass and he was delighted. Mr. Bee was sad and jealous, but since he isn’t sick I did not let him have any.
Also, an interesting fact about cough syrup: If you drink enough, you will trip balls. It’s called “robotripping.” One of the active ingredients in cough syrup, dextromethorphan, can induce a dissociative hallucinogenic state when taken in large enough quantities. Do not do this. It’s very dangerous and can get you extremely sick.
But it sounds hilarious.
The Strawberry-Basil Robitussin Granita With Ricola Cough Drop Spun Sugar is cooling and delicious, with the sweet flavor of strawberries boosted with herbaceous basil. The spun Ricola drops add a cleansing menthol freshness for both your palate and your throat. You can definitely still taste the medicine, but the frozen strawberry slush will help your poor throat feel better, and it will ease a cough for a while.
Look at Harvey. He had some granita and he felt improved. I watched him robotrip around the apartment until he fell over. Just kidding, he has no bones, he can’t even stand up on his own. Why am I still talking about him like this? It is because he is my best friend.
The Strawberry-Basil Robitussin Granita With Ricola Cough Drop Spun Sugar
Strawberry-Basil Robitussin Granita
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- Fresh basil (feel free to use a lot), plus more for garnish
- 3 cups frozen strawberries
- 60 ml (or 6 recommended adult doses with 20 mg dextromethorphan) Robitussin
Ricola Spun Sugar
- 10 Ricola cough drops, unwrapped
Mix sugar, water, and basil, in small saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Stir in Robitussin once the syrup has cooled to room temperature.
Place strawberries in food processor along with sugar Robitussin syrup. Puree until mixture is completely smooth, about two minutes.
Pour strawberry mixture into a 13×9 inch baking pan and place in freezer, stirring every 30 minutes until frozen (about two hours).
For Ricola Spun Sugar:
Place cough drops in small zip lock bag and cover bag with dish towel. Using a meat tenderizer or hammer, pulverize cough drops like they owe you $50,000 in horse racing bets.
Place cough drop powder in small saucepan and heat on low, stirring gently with wooden spoon, until mixture liquefies into a thick syrup. Syrup is ready when wooden spoon pulls thin threads of sugar up.
Using the handle of a metal saucepan, drape melted sugar mixture over in gentle back-and-forth motion, taking care not to touch the hot sugar. Let cool for one minute and remove delicately. Can be placed into airtight container for one day, provided there isn’t too much humidity.
As a final note: In general, I do not recommend cooking with medicine. I’m not a doctor or pharmacist, so there are chances you could mess up the cough syrup by blending it with other shit. In fact, if you replicate this, do it at your own risk. Instead, laugh at me while I die a horrible death after doing something stupid. Since Harvey is a stuffed animal, he suffered no adverse reactions to this extremely stupid food experiment.
I love you all, and if you’re sick too, feel better. Balls.