Granita, frozen ice, is a dessert marvellous for a hot day, great to finish off a large meal, delicious as a palate cleanser, fantastic as breakfast, as they do in Sicily and generally just overwhelmingly super at all times. It is originally from Sicily and comes in many different flavours, perhaps its most famous being lemon, spectacular when made with real Sicilian lemons, sweet, not so sharply acidic as others.

Granita is a frozen ice dessert; not like sorbet, not like ice-cream and certainly not like a slush puppy. It consists of….almost snowflakes, intensely flavoured, made by freezing water, sugar and various flavourings, e.g. coffee, lemon, almond, lime etc, and scraping the forming ice crystals regularly to form fluffy, soft flakes of ice that should look dry and light. It is perfect for dinner parties as you can make it well in advance, once scraped and flaked the granita can just be stored in the fridge until ready and re-fluffed up just before serving. SO easy – would you believe that it only has 2 ingredients in it!! Extremely versatile, granita can be made into almost any flavour – I’ve had huge success with Mojito flavoured, recipe to follow in the not so distant future, and will be trying out Margarita too very soon! The recipe below is for coffee granita and I think it is absolutely fantastic. Almost a twist on an after dinner coffee, it is intense with espresso flavour and the chocolate cream adds a smooth richness that results in a luxurious, yet light dessert.

I hope you enjoy it as much as me and my family and friends have.

Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 6):

3 cups strong, good quality coffee
½ cup white sugar – or more or less, to taste. You must use sugar though – it is vital for the forming of the granita crystals.
2 tablespoons coffee liquor (optional – you could also add the zest of an orange, a tablespoon of cocoa powder). Don’t add too much – the alcohol can affect the freezing point of the whole granita.

Double cream, 300ml
1 tablespoon icing sugar
Chocolate liquor – or use coffee liquor, brandy, rum, whisky… anything you fancy. If your guests are driving or don’t drink, heat the alcohol first in a pan over a medium heat and leave for a few minutes, to evaporate off the alcohol. Do this before adding any booze to the granita too if you need to. Again, flavour the cream with something else if you like, e.g. vanilla, orange zest, almond etc.

Method:

1.       Mix the coffee and sugar and optional extras in a large metal tray. A roasting dish would be ideal.
2.       Place in a freezer, uncovered and leave for half an hour.
3.       After half an hour take a fork and scrape any ice crystals forming on the sides. Repeat this, scraping at any ice with a fork until the whole block is frozen and scraped – approximately 5 hours. Don’t worry too much if you can’t be there the whole time. If the worse happens and it freezes into a giant solid block, you can just scrape it all at once with a fork. It’s an effort though so try and scrape it up more regularly. Place back in the freezer for 30 minutes to dry out the flakes. This can be left in the freezer for some time and just fluffed up when required. The granita should be light, fluffy and dry looking.
4.       Whip the double cream until it is thick and glossy, but not over-whipped. It should support itself when the bowl is turned over, but still retain some shine.  Stir in the icing sugar, add more for taste. Add in a good tablespoon of the liquor. Taste. Add more or less depending on your own preference/the strength of the alcohol. I like a good, punchy cream so I added about 5 tablespoons of my chocolate liquor.
5.       Spoon the granita into tumblers, or into the receptacle of your choice. Make a rough quenelle (or just a layman’s dollop!) of the cream (by taking a teaspoon of it and passing it from that teaspoon to another, scraping up the inside of the first spoon with the second and repeating this until the cream has three straight lines to it. You should probably watch a youtube of this – it’ll be easier to get having seen it and just takes a bit of practice). To be honest just a dollop of it with a spoon is also fine. Place this on top of the granita. Serve!

Picture
sugar and coffee mixture