Intense and aromatic or soft and subtle, fresh herbs are an essential ingredient. Often used as a garnish, here they are the stars of each dish
100g caster sugar 450ml clear apple juice 4 large handfuls of lemon balm, plus extra leaves to garnish 1 tart apple, tossed in lemon juice
1 Place the sugar and apple juice in a medium pan set over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, take off the heat and add three handfuls of lemon balm – crush the leaves in your hand first to release their aroma. Leave to cool completely.
2 Heat the oven to 140°C (120°C fan oven) gas mark 1. Cut the apple into thin slices horizontally, preferably using a mandolin. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Bake for 30-40 minutes until crisp. Set aside.
3 Strain the apple juice and discard the lemon balm. Pour the juice into a shallow freezerproof container – the depth of the liquid should be no more than 2.5cm.
4 Freeze for an hour or so until ice crystals form at the sides (this depends on your freezer but the process will speed up as the ice starts to form). Scrape the crystals into the centre with a fork. Return to the freezer. 5 Repeat every 30 minutes or so until the mixture has a grainy frozen texture. Just before serving, finely chop the remaining lemon balm leaves and stir into the granita. Pile into individual dishes and garnish each one with a few apple crisps. The granita is best eaten on the day it is made.